The term 'abdominal pain' is often used for referring to the pain felt in the stomach region. The intensity of the pain could range from mild to severe. Pain could be felt for a brief period or may even be constant or long-lasting. The pain could be dull, sharp, gnawing or stabbing in nature. Though a mild stomach ache that may sometimes be felt due to indigestion is not really a cause of serious concern, excruciating stomach pain that appear from time to time might be indicative of a serious health problem.
If any organ in the abdominal cavity gets affected, it could give rise to pain and discomfort in the abdominal region. If you have been experiencing excruciating pain in your stomach every now and then, you must seek medical assistance. Here are some of the common causes of abdominal discomfort.
Did you eat contaminated food? Consuming food that has not been handled properly or has not stored/prepared in a hygienic manner could be responsible for causing food poisoning. If you drink contaminated water or consume food items that have been contaminated by bacteria, toxins or parasites, you are giving an open invitation to harmful pathogens to invade your stomach. So, be careful about what you eat. Food poisoning is characterized by severe cramp-like pain. Other symptoms that may accompany pain include diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The exact causes of irritable bowel syndrome are not known. It is believed that this functional disorder of the gut may be triggered by stress. It is believed that the nerves that transmit messages between the intestines and the brain may become hyperactive, thereby making the intestine sensitive. This could affect the intestinal motility and cause sudden muscle contractions. Therefore, symptoms could get worse when the individual is under a lot of stress. The symptoms could appear or worsen on eating certain food items. People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome are most likely to experience cramps, pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhea.
Recurring episodes of abdominal discomfort or pain may be due to the inflammation of the stomach lining. This lining performs the function of protecting the stomach from the acids. Prolonged use of certain anti-inflammatory medications, excessive intake of alcohol and smoking could also lead to erosion in stomach lining. Due to inflammation and erosion of the thick mucous layer or the stomach lining, hydrochloric acid and pepsin present in the stomach can cause sores or peptic ulcers. Ulcers could also be caused due to an infection in the stomach lining by a bacterium known as H. pylori.
Appendix is a 3.5 inch long tube extending from the large intestine. An inflamed appendix can also be responsible for causing a sharp abdominal pain. Pain or discomfort may arise due to a blockage in the appendix. In the initial stages, the pain is experienced around the belly button, but this may spread to the right lower abdomen. Pain could also be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or fever. If left untreated, inflamed appendix may burst and the contents may spill over into the abdominal cavity. This might lead to inflammation in the lining of the abdominal cavity.
Diverticulosis is a medical condition that is characterized by the formation of diverticula in the walls of large intestine. The term 'diverticula' refers to pouches that form when pressure is exerted on the intestinal walls by the waste material stored in the large intestine. Diverticulitis refers to the inflammation of the abnormal pouches present in the intestinal wall. A large tear in the diverticulum can cause the wastes to spill over into the abdominal cavity. This can cause an infection or inflammation of the abdomen wall. Those suffering from diverticulitis generally experience symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, chills and weight loss.
Some women can experience abdominal discomfort during menstruation. Pregnant women may experience a jabbing pain in event of an ectopic pregnancy. This is a complication of pregnancy wherein the fertilized egg gets implanted outside the uterus. It could be implanted in the abdomen, ovary or the cervix. This could lead to severe pain in the lower right or lower left abdomen. Inflammation in the fallopian tubes or formation of painful ovarian cysts could also cause a piercing pain.
If you often experience pain in the abdominal region, do not ignore it. Do consult a doctor to get a proper diagnosis. Blood, urine and stool samples would be tested for identifying the underlying medical condition that may be causing abdominal discomfort. If you have been suffering from chronic constipation, start paying attention to your eating habits. Eating a fiber-rich diet may help to a great extent. Kidney stones, Crohn's disease, pancreatitis, food allergies, acid reflux disease, gallstones and intestinal obstruction are some of the medical conditions that could cause pain. So, the treatment will vary depending on the underlying condition. Doctors might prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics for treating inflammatory conditions and bacterial infections respectively. Do follow the advice of your doctor and make certain changes in your lifestyle to prevent further complications.
If you have been suffering from recurring bouts of stomach pain, you must seek medical help soon. If the underlying condition is diagnosed in the early stages, it can be easily treated with the help of drug therapy and lifestyle modifications.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.