Abdominal pain is a common gastroenterological condition millions of individuals experience; some on a day-to-day basis.
Pain that lasts for a short duration doesn’t generally pose any long-term health issues. Persistent abdominal pain has the potential to and could be symptomatic due to a number of digestive health conditions.
In the event that persistent abdominal pain is the primary symptom, patients need to report any additional symptoms for an accurate diagnosis to be made.
This post considers a number of potential causes for persistent stomach aches.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
A common cause of continuous abdominal pain, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition that’s more likely to affect women than men. Apart from frequent pain, it’s characterised by diarrhoea, constipation, and abdominal cramps.
The condition affects individuals through a combination of pain, discomfort, and poor bowel habits, which include either diarrhoea or constipation.
Another potential cause of persistent abdominal pain is an inflammatory bowel disease, called Crohn’s disease. In this condition, inflammation occurs in the lower part of the small intestine and/or the large intestine. It may also affect the digestive tract.
Similar to IBS, this condition results in symptoms like chronic diarrhoea, cramp-like abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fever.
While there’s no complete cure, treatment for Crohn’s disease aims to reduce inflammation and may even include surgery.
This is an infection of the small intestine, which is caused by a certain type of parasite known as Giardia. Apart from persistent abdominal pain and cramping, patients with this condition also report diarrhoea, gas, belching, nausea, and fatigue.
People usually get infected by drinking water or eating food that’s contaminated with stool containing Giardia or coming into contact with the stool of someone who’s infected.
Another major cause of continuous stomach aches is kidney stones. According to medical data, between 4-8% of the Australian population suffer from kidney stones at any given time. While these can be very minuscule in size, they can cause significant pain, especially when they’re passing out of a patient’s body.
This condition is characterised by frequent and intense pain, especially in the lower abdomen, side, back, and the area below the ribs. Patients may also have to urinate more frequently.
The pain felt when a stone is being passed is usually the result of an excessive intake of minerals and a lack of fluids in the body.
Another condition that causes patients to experience persistent abdominal pain is Endometriosis. This affects women, especially during their menstrual cycle, and may result in infertility issues.
This condition takes place when the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows outside. This causes pain during a woman’s period because while bleeding takes place as it should, the outside tissue then breaks apart and bleeds.
This blood may not have any place to go, resulting in inflammation of the surrounding areas. Scar tissue and lesions may develop as a result. Symptoms include painful cramps, heavy bleeding during periods, painful bowel movements, and back pain, to name just a few.
An inflammation that takes place in the appendix, appendicitis is a medical condition that requires immediate surgical intervention. If an inflamed appendix is left as is, it could burst or perforate, spilling infectious fluids into the abdominal cavity, which can be fatal unless treated with strong antibiotics.
Symptoms include pain in the navel or upper abdomen that becomes sharper as it moves to the lower-right, severe cramps, loss of appetite, fever, abdominal swelling, vomiting and a range of other symptoms.
If patients suspect that they have this condition, immediate medical attention is necessary.
Patients must seek medical guidance and treatment when experiencing persistent abdominal pain
Stomach aches may be fairly common, yet, persistent pain could be a sign of a serious digestive issue. In these instances, patients must refrain from diagnosing themselves and receive prompt medical care and treatment.
To find out more about what persistent abdominal pain could mean, Sydney Gut Clinic’s experienced gastroenterology specialists provide expert advice.