What to do when abdominal pain strikes?

When abdominal pain occurs, it can be dismissed as a transient gas or some minor digestive disturbance. Many individuals simply wait for the discomfort to subside. Whether the individual experiences abdominal pain that is piercing, short-lived or chronic discomfort that occurs regularly, there are measures that can make it go away.

Close look on abdominal pain

Oftentimes, it is hard to pinpoint the root cause of abdominal pain. The source can be any of the structures and organs inside the abdomen, including the appendix, liver, kidneys, reproductive organs or any of the organs part of the digestive process such as the pancreas, stomach, intestines or the gallbladder.

In some cases, abdominal pain might be due to other issues not related to the abdomen such pneumonia or heart attack.

If an individual experiences abdominal pain that is chronic, severe or bothersome, it is best to consult a doctor for further assessment. The doctor will ask questions about the pain as well as checking out the medical history and performing a physical exam.

When is it serious?

Abdominal pain

Abdominal pain tends to vary greatly from minor to excruciating.

Abdominal pain tends to vary greatly from minor to excruciating. Remember that the intense pain can originate from something relatively harmless. Yet some serious issues such as celiac disease or even colon cancer might not trigger much discomfort in the initial phases.

Remember not to judge the issue solely on the intensity of the pain. Incapacitating, severe pain is a reason to set an appointment with a doctor right away. As for mild to moderate pain, the following should be considered as warning indications to consult a doctor:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort lasting for a week or longer
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Diarrhea lasting more than 3 days
  • Bloating that lasts longer than 2 days
  • Fever
  • Black, tarry stools
  • Pain during pregnancy
  • Prolonged appetite loss
  • Thin, ribbon-like stool
  • Abdominal tenderness

The indications that necessitates immediate consultation with a doctor include a rigid or stiff abdomen, high fever usually over 101 degrees F, persistent incapacitating pain with vomiting, blood-streaked stool or vomit, inability to pass stool, urine or gas.

Self-care measures

For mild cases or to provide minor pain relief until a doctor can be seen, there are also measures that can be used.

  • Drink more water but in small, infrequent sips.
  • Avoid foods that can worsen some causes of abdominal pain such as spicy foods, greasy foods, tomato products, citrus, chocolate and dairy products.
  • Limit food and beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol.
  • Avoid medications that can aggravate the lining of the stomach such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Over-the-counter antacids that contain activated charcoal or simethicone can be used for discomfort due to stomach acid.
  • A bland diet must be strictly followed after the pain subsides.


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