What is Abdominal Pain?
Abdominal pain is pain felt in the abdomen. It is one of the most frequent and common form of pain among people. Many people have a "stomachache" at one time or another and always blame abdominal pain (especially left abdominal pain) to our stomaches. However, the pain can arise from the tissues of the abdominal wall that surrounds the abdominal cavity (such as the skin and abdominal wall muscles). Since the term abdominal pain is generally used to describe pain originating from organs within the abdominal cavity, any organ in your midsection can cause pain, including your appendix, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines.
You'd better not ignore your health status whenever the abdominal pain strikes. Although most of the causes of abdominal pain are minor issues and can be readily diagnosed and treated, those pain can also be a sign of a serious illness. If you can heed your pain symptoms early, you can spot the difference between a minor problem and a medical emergency.
Abdominal Pain Symptoms You Need Concern
From patients' history, a general rule to check whether the pain is emergent depends on if it's intense. If your pain is not intense, what you need to do is relaxing your lifestyle; but if it is, we suggest you call your doctor or get to a hospital immediately. What's more, if your pain is accompanied by fever, vomiting blood, bloody stools, difficulty in breathing, or the pain occurs during pregnancy, you need contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Two Questions Need Ask When Abdominal Pain Arises
For your health consideration, we suggest you record the following two simple questions. They can help the doctor greatly when he or she diagnoses your pain causes.
- How the pain begins. Pain that comes on suddenly means an emergency singal. It always means a sudden event in your body. For example, the interruption of the supply of blood to the colon or obstruction of the bile duct by a gallstone.
- Where the pain arises. Generally speaking, the left side abdominal pain is more common in women and young adults. However, there are lots of causes of a left side abdominal pain, including bowel problems, like diverticulitis, and constipation, or pain arising from muscles and skin over the left side of the abdomen. The right side abdominal pain is usually caused by appendicitis, the usual location of the appendix. But you can still find exceptional cases. Trying to figure out the exact position for the pain will be very helpful for the doctor's diagnosis.
It's useful to get some common knowledge for different kinds of abdominal pain. You can do some simple self-examination by applying the 4-Quadrant positioning method and targeting to the table below.
4-Quadrant Diagnosis Method of Abdominal Pain
To be more accurate about the source of specific abdominal pain causes, it's helpful to use a horizontal line and a vertical line to divide the abdomen into four parts: the right upper quadrant, the left upper quadrant, the right lower quadrant and the left lower quadrant. You can refer to the following tables to find symptoms and suggestions for each quadrant.
|Upper Right Abdominal Pain|
|Symptoms||The pain felt is mainly in the upper right side of abdomen. It may also spread to other places: you may experience pain in the right side shoulder, the right upper back or chest; you may also have nausea, vomiting or gas.|
|Suggestions||Consult your doctor if this is not the first attack. Call a doctor immediately for emergency advice if such symptoms appear for the first time. Don't eat anything to make things go worse when you get abdominal pain caused by gallstones.|
|Symptoms||You may have chronic abdominal pain in the upper right side. Besides, you may feel extraordinarily tired and suffer from fever and sore throat.|
|Causes||You are experiencing viral infection, probably mononucleosis.|
|Suggestions||See a doctor promptly when you got upper right abdominal pain. In addition to taking medications, you'll need to get plenty of rest.|
|Upper Abdominal Pain|
|Symptoms||Acute pain begins with gradually or suddenly in the upper abdomen that sometimes extends through the side and back. The pain may be mild at first and you may experience worse stomach pain after eating, especially after a large meal or several hours of heavy drink. The pain is often severe and may become constant and last for several days. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, swollen and tender abdomen, fever and rapid pulse.|
|Suggestions||You need get immediate treatment. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Either form is serious and can lead to complications. In severe cases, bleeding, infection, and permanent tissue damage may occur.|
|Symptoms||You may feel pressure in your upper abdomen, especially when the upper abdominal pain associated with heartburn, belching, chest pain and nausea.|
|Suggestions||Make an appointment with your family doctor. If you've been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia and are experiencing such signs and symptoms, ask your doctor for a referral to an expert who specializes in digestive diseases. You can also try to eat several smaller meals throughout the day rather than a few large meals. Elevate the head of your bed 6 inches (~15 centimeters) and do not lie down for three hours after eating will relief the abdominal pain.|
|Symptoms||Frequent burning sensation and pain in the upper abdomen or chest, sometimes spreading to the throat, possibly along with a sour taste in your mouth. Other symptoms such as a lump in the throat, difficulty in swallowing and dry cough.|
|Causes||Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)|
|Suggestions||For initial treatment to prevent future attack, you can suck on an antacid lozenge at the first sign of pain. Over-the-counter acid blockers can help control heartburn. Contact your doctor if the treatment doesn't seem to be helpful after several days. See your doctor promptly if you experience trouble swallowing, especially if solid food gets stuck.|
|Lower Left Abdominal Pain|
|Symptoms||You experience pain in lower left abdomen, and the pain often comes suddenly, severely, and with fever. You may also have nausea, vomiting, chills, and abdominal tenderness. Your bowel habits may also get changed, and you suffer from either diarrhea or constipation.|
|Suggestions||You need to make an appointment with your doctor immediately. If you have sharp abdominal pain in left side along with fever, chills, swelling, or nausea and vomiting, go for emergency treatment right away. You may have peritonitis, a life-threatening infection of the abdominal cavity.|
|Lower Abdominal Pain|
|Symptoms||If you are a woman and might be pregnant, and have severe pain that suddenly arises in the lower right abdomen or lower left abdomen , but you don't have vomiting or fever.|
|Suggestions||Call the doctor for a prompt appointment. If the abdominal pain is very intense, go to the emergency room right away.|
|Symptoms||Pain in lower abdomen. You may also have blood in your stools, fever, unexplained weight loss, skin rashes, tiredness, or joint pain.|
|Causes||Crohn's disease (pain in the right side) or ulcerative colitis (with pain in the left side). Dysentery is also a possibility.|
|Suggestions||See your doctor promptly. Don't forget to tell your doctor if you may be at risk for dysentery, or diarrhea containing blood. These symptoms are often caused by exposure to water contaminated by bacteria or protozoa. If diagnosed with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, you should eat nutritious meals, get plenty of rest, and cut back on stress. Taking regular relaxing and breathing exercises is a good way. Don't take alcohol and aspirin.|
|Lower Right Abdominal Pain|
|Symptoms||Intense pain in the lower right side of the abdomen. You may first experience pain in lower right abdomen or near the belly button; and 6-8 hours later, it becomes more intense and goes to the lower right abdomen. When you walk, the pain gets worse. When you press the lower right abdomen, the painful feelings stay there and you can feel muscle tension and resistance. You might also lose your appetite and get trouble with nausea, vomiting, or low-grade fever.|
|Suggestions||See a doctor immediately.|
|Symptoms||Pain in the back that usually spreads under the rib cage, around the front, and into the groin.|
|Suggestions||See a doctor promptly|
|Symptoms||Extremely sharp abdominal pain, perhaps with other acute symptoms.|
|Causes||Pelvic inflammatory disease, perforated stomach ulcer, heart attack, diabetic emergency, shockfrom allergy, poisoning|
|Suggestions||See a doctor immediately.|