Causes Of Severe Abdominal Pain: How To Help Determine What’s Causing Your Stomach Pain

Woman experiencing severe abdominal painThere are several common causes of abdominal pain depending on where your pain is located and what type of pain you are experiencing. Abdominal pain is classified as any discomfort that impacts the area between your chest and pelvic area.

Abdominal pain differs, including cramps, aches, dull pain, or sharp intermittent pains. The location of this pain also differs, largely because you have many different working parts located in your stomach, all of which may experience malfunction, injury, pain or illness inflicted by a viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection.

The major organs found in your abdomen include your spleen, intestines (small and large), stomach, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and appendix (attached to the large intestine).

The most common causes of abdominal pain are infection, inflammation, abnormal growths, intestinal disorders and blockages or obstructions. When you have an infection in your intestines, blood or throat the bacteria may get into your digestive tract and create stomach pain, as well as the potential for diarrhea, constipation, and other changes in digestion.

Types Of Stomach Pain And What They Mean

Depending on the type of pain you are experiencing the cause may differ.

Localized pain impacts one region of your entire stomach. This type of pain is largely linked to an illness or injury of a particular organ. Stomach ulcers, open sores located on the inside of the stomach lining, commonly cause this sort of localized pain.

Cramping pain is most likely caused by diarrhea, bloating, gas, or constipation. For females, this pain is often associated with female reproductive organs and menstruation. Severe cramping may also be an indication of a miscarriage. In most cases stomach cramps typically go away without treatment.

Colicky pain, or a sudden and sharp pain that may feel like a muscle spasm, is a sign of something more severe, such as kidney stones.

Location Of Stomach Pain And What It Means

Where your pain is located will also help determine the cause of your discomfort.

Some of the most common causes of generalized stomach pain, or pain that impacts the entire stomach include:

  • The common flu
  • Appendicitis
  • Injury
  • IBS
  • UTI (Urinary tract infection)
  • Crohn’s disease

Some common causes of lower abdomen stomach pain include:

  • Appendicitis
  • An obstruction of the intestinal tract

In women only:

  • Menstrual pain
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Fibroids

Some common causes of upper abdomen pain include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Inflammation of the liver
  • Heart attack
  • Gallstones

Some common causes of pain in the middle of your abdomen include:

  • Appendicitis
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Uremia, or an accumulation of waste in your blood stream
  • An injury to this area

Some common causes of pain impacting the lower left stomach include:

  • Ovarian cysts
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Tumors/cancer

Some common causes of upper left abdominal stomach pain includes:

  • Injury
  • Kidney infection
  • Cancer
  • Heart attack
  • Severe constipation
  • Enlarged spleen

Common causes of lower right stomach pain include:

  • The flu
  • Hernia
  • Kidney infection
  • Cancer

Common causes of upper right stomach pain include:

  • Injury
  • Pneumonia
  • Hepatitis

How Is Stomach Pain Diagnosed?

A doctor will conduct a number of tests to determine the actual cause of your stomach pain. Imaging tests, Ultrasounds, X-rays, and MRI scans are all useful tools to see what’s going on inside of your stomach. A few other tests that determine the presence of abnormalities in the colon, intestines, esophagus and stomach include:  Colonoscopy, Endoscopy, and Upper GI.

In some cases a blood, urine and/or stool sample may be obtained for further testing, usually in order to determine if there is bacterial, viral or parasitic infection to blame.

There are a variety of tests used to detect the cause of stomach pain. There’s never any reason to live in pain, there’s always a solution once we know the cause of the problem.

When Should You See A Doctor For Stomach Pain?

Most stomach pain causes discomfort for a short period of time before going away on its own, but how do you know when your stomachache is serious enough to warrant urgent medical attention?

Signs your stomach pain requires immediate medical attention:

  • You notice blood in your stools.
  • Your fever is high than 101°F.
  • You are consistently throwing up and nauseas.
  • You are having troubles breathing.
  • You have blood in your vomit (hematemesis).
  • Your eyes or skin appear abnormally yellow.
  • You notice severe inflammation and tenderness in your stomach.

Less severe symptoms that also require medical attention include:

  • Any stomach pain that extends more than 24 hours.
  • Constipation or diarrhea that doesn’t pass or get better.
  • Sudden loss of appetite or unexplainable weight loss.
  • A high fever
  • Vomiting
  • A burning discomfort during urination.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding it is even more important to contact you doctor if stomach pain persists.

You need to call 911 or go to your local emergency room if your abdominal pain is paired with trauma from an injury or accident, or if you are experiencing severe pressure or discomfort in your chest.

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