Symptoms

Stomach Pain – Causes, Treatment

Stomach pain

Probably everyone has had abdominal pain at least once in their life . This is why abdominal pain is one of the most common complaints of all. In addition to abdominal pain, there is also stomach pain  and abdominal pain , which patients often confuse. Abdominal pain usually occurs as a result of flatulence , constipation or diarrhea .

What is abdominal pain?

Abdominal pain is one of the most common types of pain, both acute and chronic. Since abdominal pain can be caused by a wide variety of factors, it is often a major challenge for medical diagnostics. In their specialist terminology, doctors speak of abdominal discomfort or abdominal pain.

Abdominal pain comes in different forms: abdominal colic can occur or general, dull pain that affects the entire abdominal region. Accompanying symptoms are sometimes noted, including fever , diarrhea , constipation and flatulence or even vomiting and, in severe cases, bleeding , in which case a doctor should be consulted immediately. Abdominal pain usually leads to an alarming hardening of the abdominal wall.

In addition to abdominal pain, those affected can also suffer from stomach pain  or abdominal pain  . Stomach pain can be subdivided into lower abdominal pain and upper abdominal pain  .

causes

Abdominal pain is not a disease, but merely a sign of disease. The causes of abdominal pain can be very different, because all of the human organs in the abdomen can be responsible for the pain. Stomach pain is relatively harmless if it is triggered by certain, intolerable foods. Such food intolerances can be an indication of an allergy , of spoiled food, but also of overconsumption of food or even hunger .

Stomach pain is often caused by stress and burnout syndrome . Here the causes are in the psychosomatic area and have something to do with everyday life and the job of those affected.

But more serious diseases also radiate to the abdominal region and should therefore be understood as a warning signal. For example, heart disease or damage to the spleen, liver and esophagus as well as circulatory disorders in the intestines, polyps or gallstones can cause abdominal pain.

Abdominal pain is also caused by colon cancer or acute illnesses such as appendicitis or gastritis ( inflammation of the gastric mucosa ) – in this respect, long-lasting and frequently recurring or increasing abdominal pain must be examined carefully.

During the examination, the so-called anamnesis, the abdomen is palpated and examined for bulges, which can be an indication of a hernia . Blood pressure, pulse and temperature are measured, but gastroscopy and colonoscopy or ultrasound examinations and computer tomography can also be used as instruments.

diseases with this symptom

Diagnosis & History

Abdominal pain is not an independent disease, but is always a symptom of a disease. In order to diagnose this, the doctor must have a conversation with the patient (anamnesis). Questions about the abdominal pain and previous illnesses are also included. As a result, the body must also be examined.

Palpation, in which the abdomen is palpated with the hands, is relatively simple. Listening with a stethoscope ( auscultation ) is also possible. Further insights can be gained with ultrasound and blood tests as well as colon and gastroscopy .

Different types of abdominal pain lead to different courses. Abdominal pain that is very easy to localize (somatic) is often burning and sharp, while pain that is less easy to localize (visceral) is perceived as cramping and dull. A slow increase in intensity can be observed in inflammatory abdominal pain.

complications

Abdominal pain is usually harmless if, for example, you have eaten too much or too much fat or if you have a mild gastrointestinal infection. But be careful: there can also be complications that need to be treated. The complications that arise also depend on the underlying disease.

Inflamed organs can lead to tissue death. A secretion blockage can lead to a perforation (breakthrough) but also to the spread of germs in the abdominal cavity with subsequent peritonitis . This can lead to life-threatening sepsis if the infection spreads throughout the body. It is not uncommon for the abdominal muscles to become very tense, which the doctor can detect by palpating the abdomen. The cause can be irritation of the peritoneum, the peritoneum, if there are inflammatory processes in the abdominal cavity. This symptomatology is part of an acute abdomen and requires medical attention.

An ileus (intestinal obstruction or paralysis), which represents an interruption in the intestinal passage, must also be treated (often surgically). If intestinal loops are pinched or if the blood vessels are blocked, there is quickly an undersupply of blood and oxygen to the affected tissue areas. These die off in succession. If bleeding occurs as a result of injuries or a ruptured vessel, a volume deficiency shock can mean death for the person concerned.

In older people, a mesenteric infarction (acute blockage of an intestinal vessel) is also a possible complication.

When should you go to the doctor?

Abdominal pain is not always a reason to see a doctor – however, there are some warning signs that speak of a serious cause that requires specialist clarification. A doctor’s visit is recommended if the abdominal pain is accompanied by nausea and vomiting or if there is also a high fever and sweating.

Blood in the stool and black, mostly foul-smelling vomit are alarm signals that indicate a serious disease of the gastrointestinal tract. Anyone who feels generally weak and observes an increased heartbeat or dizziness may be suffering from an acute abdomen or appendix rupture – both of which should be clarified quickly by an emergency doctor .

If the skin also turns pale and there is a feeling of weakness, an emergency doctor should also be called. If the pain extends into the chest area or the intestinal region and is accompanied by a hardened, throbbing abdominal wall, rapid action is required due to the risk of an intestinal blockage or a similarly serious illness.

Even if the stool behavior changes within a short time or the abdominal pain occurs in phases, a doctor’s visit is recommended. There may be a food intolerance, an intestinal tumor or bile sludge, and intestinal protrusions may also be responsible for the pain. In general, if the abdominal pain lasts for several days or increases, you need to see a doctor.

Treatment & Therapy

Treatment for abdominal pain can vary greatly depending on the cause. Self-medication only combats the first symptoms and should not be taken without consulting your family doctor. If the abdominal pain does not stop with heat, rest and relaxation exercises or a light diet, other causes must be sought.

In the case of treatment, medical advice should be sought in any case – especially in the case of severe abdominal pain – above all to rule out serious illnesses such as heart disease or colon cancer or to treat them if necessary. In such cases, home remedies are of course no longer sufficient. Then medication, radiation or even surgical measures are necessary.

Outlook & Forecast

Treatment is not absolutely necessary for abdominal pain. This symptom occurs temporarily in most people and can have many different causes, which do not have to be directly related to a problem in the stomach.

In most cases, abdominal pain goes away on its own after just a few hours. They can occur mainly in the case of intolerances or allergies and also disappear when the body has broken down the respective ingredient again.

However, if the abdominal pain is very severe or persists for a long time, a doctor must be consulted. This can be a serious infection in the gastrointestinal tract . The treatment takes place in most cases in the form of medication and also leads to success. In some cases, however, surgery is necessary, for example to remove ulcers from the abdomen that are causing the abdominal pain.

Abdominal pain can also occur during menstrual periods and is a common symptom. Using a hot water bottle can relieve abdominal pain and provide temporary relief. In most cases, medical treatment leads to a positive course of the disease, so that no further complications arise.

prevention

You can rule out a whole range of causes of abdominal pain yourself. In order to prevent psychosomatic complaints, a balanced lifestyle, healthy and balanced diet (plenty of fruit and vegetables, fresh food, little that is difficult to digest and greasy or too many foods that are too hot and too cold) are helpful.

In general, diet is of the greatest importance to physicians when it comes to caring for the gastrointestinal tract. The way in which food is eaten also has an impact: the food should not be gobbled down, but chewed slowly and thoroughly. Yoga or sport in general prevents causes of abdominal pain, which are caused by circulatory disorders, for example.

↳ Further information: Home remedies for abdominal pain

aftercare

Abdominal pain is usually only temporary. They will go away on their own with no action required. Since there are no symptoms afterwards, no systematic aftercare is necessary. However, patients can ask their doctor how to prevent abdominal pain from reoccurring. They are then responsible for implementing the recommendations themselves.

Follow-up care is only necessary in the case of persistent or recurring abdominal pain. It should be noted that the discomfort can result from an existing illness. Doctors have to turn these off in order to achieve long-term freedom from symptoms. Aftercare is therefore about everyday support and long-term treatment.

Depending on the extent of the underlying disease, the doctor and patient agree on an individual presentation rhythm. Depending on the type of complaint, blood and stool tests are carried out, and if necessary, a sonography and a gastroscopy or colonoscopy. Follow-up care very often includes medication.

The behavior of the patient is decisive for the success of the treatment. This must avoid triggering factors for a lasting freedom from symptoms. This is the only way to prevent a recurrence. If stress and anxiety cause the symptoms, psychotherapy is usually advisable. This is the only way for those affected to learn coping strategies and achieve stabilization.

You can do that yourself

There are a number of ways you can help yourself if you have abdominal pain. First of all, it is good to know the cause. In the case of an underlying gastrointestinal infection, reducing food intake and switching to easily digestible food is recommended. Sufficient fluid intake should not be forgotten. Heat and relaxation generally help with abdominal pain. A warm bath or a hot-water bottle stimulate blood circulation. A bit of exercise helps against cramps and muscle tension . A walk is enough.

If the symptoms are caused by indigestion or flatulence, a tea will relieve the pain. In particular, a tea mixture of fennel , aniseed and caraway reduces existing flatulence. Chamomile or lemon balm also help. Especially in infants, a stomach massage with harmless stomach pain is pain-relieving. Bloating, three-month colic and constipation can be relieved with a massage.

If abdominal pain is common, diet and lifestyle may also play a role. Sufficient fiber from fruit and vegetables promotes healthy digestion and prevents symptoms such as constipation. Prunes work against an existing constipation. They swell up in the intestine and stimulate it to empty. Stomach pain occurs in some people due to stress. Small breaks in the stressful everyday life and enough sleep can help. Cigarettes, coffee and alcohol irritate the stomach. They intensify existing complaints or encourage them to develop.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.