It can be hard to determine what the cause is of abdominal pain. Often, serious and minor abdominal problems start with the same basic symptoms. However, most abdominal problems are minor, and only home treatment is required. Many times the exact cause of abdominal pain is hard to find. The severity of your pain, its location , and other symptoms you have may help determine what is causing the pain. Generalized pain occurs in half of the abdomen or more. This type of pain can occur with many different illnesses and will usually go away without medical treatment. Flu and indigestion are common problems that can cause this type of pain. Home treatment may help relieve some of the discomfort. Generalized mild pain or crampy pain that becomes more severe over several hours may be a symptom of a blockage of the intestines (bowel obstruction). Localized pain is located in one area of the abdomen.
Pain like this comes on suddenly and gets worse is more likely to be a symptom of a serious problem. The pain of appendicitis may start as generalized pain, but it often moves (localizes) to one area of the abdomen. The pain from gallbladder disease or peptic ulcer disease often starts in one area of the abdomen and stays in that same location. Localized pain that gradually becomes more severe may be a symptom of inflammation of an abdominal organ. Cramping is a type of pain that comes and goes (intermittent) or that changes in position or severity. Cramping is rarely serious if it is relieved by passing gas or a stool. Many women have cramping pain with their menstrual periods. Generalized cramping pain is usually not a cause for concern unless it gets worse, lasts for longer than 24 hours, or localizes. Cramping that starts suddenly with diarrhea or other minor health problems can be quite painful but is usually not serious.
Occasionally, severe pain that comes on suddenly may be a symptom of a rupture of the stomach or intestines (perforation), torsion of the testicle or ovary, a kidney stone, gallbladder disease, or blood vessel problems, such as an aortic aneurysm. The pain caused by appendicitis or gallbladder disease may increase when you move or cough. Pain that increases with movement or coughing and does not appear to be caused by strained muscles is more likely to be a symptom of a serious problem. A visit to a doctor is usually needed when severe abdominal pain comes on suddenly, or when new and different mild pain slowly becomes more severe over several hours or days. After a minor abdominal injury, pain, nausea, or vomiting may occur but often gets better in a few minutes. Pain and other symptoms that continue, increase, or develop following an injury may mean an abdominal organ has been damaged. Many medicines can cause abdominal pain. Some medicines also cause side effects, such as constipation, that can make abdominal pain worse. Specific abdominal symptoms have been linked with ovarian cancer. These symptoms include abdominal or pelvic pain , increased abdominal size or bloating, and trouble eating or feeling full quickly. If you have had these symptoms 12 or more times each month over the past 12 months, talk with your doctor. Listening to your body and paying attention to what it needs is usually sound advice. Take a 15 minute break every now and then just to give your body some time to relax. For more information about treatments for abdominal pain visit our website at www.freeofpain.org