Abdominal Pain (Causes, Remedies, Treatment) (cont.)
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- Definition of abdominal pain
- What are the ways to describe abdominal pain?
- What are the causes of abdominal pain?
- What are the less serious causes of abdominal pain?
- What are more serious causes of abdominal pain?
- When should I call my doctor about abdominal pain?
- What are the methods used to diagnose abdominal pain?
- What are the home remedies for certain causes of abdominal pain?
- What medications can be used to treat certain causes of abdominal pain?
- What lifestyle choices can I make to prevent abdominal pain?
- Pictures of Abdominal Pain - Slideshow
- Pictures of What's Causing Your Pelvic Pain - Slideshow
- Pictures of Appendicitis & Appendectomy - Slideshow
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What are the less serious causes of abdominal pain?
The key to determining less serious causes of abdominal pain is the definition of "less serious." There is little or no agreement among patients about what constitutes "less serious" abdominal pains; however, doctors have a general consensus of what constitutes "less serious" abdominal pain.
If the cause of the pain is likely short lived possibly treatable, and the patient does not have an emergent condition, does not need to be hospitalized or should be worked up or further diagnosed by outpatient tests, then the cause(s) of the pain are considered "less serious" by many doctors. A large number of causes of abdominal pain may fit the doctor's definition of "less serious" abdominal pain. However, even though a cause may generally fit these subjective requirements, there can be instances where they will not. The reader is urged to examine the following section to see what constitutes "serious" causes of abdominal pain. Consequently, the following is a list of potential less serious causes of abdominal pain (many health care professionals may add or subtract from this list):
- Angina (recurrent known symptoms)
- Chronic recurrent diseases (cancers, colitis, and others)
- Food poisoning (the majority of viral and bacterial causes of gastroenteritis)
- GERD (reflux)
- Hiatal hernia
- Gallstones (intermittent symptoms)
- Inguinal hernias (reducible)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Ovarian cyst(s)
- Pneumonia (treatable with oral antibiotics)
There is one more diagnosis that is frequently given in the emergency room as a presumptive or "working" diagnosis. The diagnosis is "abdominal pain, nonspecific or not specified." This diagnosis is given when, after history, physical exam, blood tests and CT scan evidence for a cause of abdominal pain can be identified. Usually, the patient is given a small supply of pain medications and is encouraged to have follow-up with their primary doctor and, if needed, other outpatient tests. Almost all of such patients have "less serious" or unknown, but resolved causes of abdominal pain, especially when they arrive with a complaint of mild to abdominal pain for the previous few hours.
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