Just about everybody at one point or another will experience abdominal (belly) pain. Most causes of abdominal pain are not serious and can be readily diagnosed and treated. However, abdominal pain can also be the sign of a serious illness, and it is important that you learn to recognize which symptoms are severe and when to call a doctor.
Whether it is a mild stomach ache, sharp pain, or stomach cramps, abdominal pain has numerous causes. These include:
If your abdominal pain is severe or if it is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible:
These symptoms may be an indication of an internal inflammation, infection, or bleeding that requires treatment as soon as possible. Less commonly, some of these symptoms may be caused by colorectal, ovarian, or abdominal cancer.
Because there are so many potential causes of abdominal pain, your doctor will perform a thorough physical examination, discuss with you the type of symptoms you are experiencing, and ask you several related questions about the pain you are feeling. These questions could include the following:
Once this initial evaluation has been completed, your doctor may have you undergo some tests to help him or her make the diagnosis. These may include blood or urine tests, barium swallows or enemas, an endoscopy, x-ray, or ultrasound.
Treating abdominal pain depends on its cause. Options include:
In more severe cases such as appendicitis and hernia, surgery is necessary.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.
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