Out of the many causes of abdominal pain—pain that occurs between the chest and pelvic regions of the body—abnormalities in the digestive tract tend to be some of the most common causes.
Commonly referred to as a stomach ache, abdominal pain may feel like a cramp and the pain can be dull, intermittent or sharp. It could be a sign of a more serious issue and may originate from several organs located in the abdomen, including:
- The large or small intestine
While abdominal pain tends to resolve by itself in a short period, if you are experiencing any sudden, severe, or debilitating abdominal pain, it is best to consult a doctor to identify the cause of your symptoms.
To understand the causes of abdominal pain, it is important that you pay attention to the symptoms you may be experiencing. If you are experiencing abdominal pain, keep an eye on the following symptoms:
- A dull ache or sharp pain
- A burning pain
- A twisting pain
- Constant or intermittent pain
- Sudden onset or slow onset of pain
- Pain that persists for a short time or a long time
- Pain felt in the centre of the stomach
- Pain that spreads to other areas of the stomach
- Pain that spreads to the back, neck, shoulder or pelvis
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting blood
- Fever and sweating
- Inability to pass urine, gas, or stools
The common abdominal pain causes can be due to inflammation or a disease that affects any of the organs or blood vessels in the abdomen. These causes may include:
- The causes of heart pain
- Viral, bacterial or parasitic infections
- Food poisoning or intolerances
- Acid reflux
- Bowel obstruction
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
- Stomach or peptic ulcers
- Crohn’s disease
- Coeliac disease
If you are experiencing abdominal pain, your doctor or specialist may try to understand the exact location of the pain, along with any other gastrointestinal symptoms, to identify the cause and confirm a diagnosis.
Evaluations and investigations that can support the identification of the causes of abdominal pain and diagnosis will depend on the exact location, type, and duration of pain that you are experiencing.
The most common evaluations and investigations may include:
- A physical examination
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Stool tests
- Imaging tests such as X-ray, ultrasound, ECG, and CT scans
- Endoscopy procedures including a gastroscopy or colonoscopy
Once your doctor has identified the underlying causes of abdominal pain, they will identify the methods of treatment or condition management strategies that should be used. If your pain is sudden, there may be certain home remedies that can help alleviate this discomfort temporarily.
The following home remedies may help you alleviate your pain and discomfort:
- Placing a heat pack or hot water bottle on your stomach
- Staying hydrated
- Eating small meals
- Avoiding spicy food, caffeine, or alcohol
- Taking over-the-counter painkillers to treat the pain, vomiting, or diarrhoea
If your pain and symptoms do not subside after a few days, your doctor or specialist may recommend the following treatment depending on your diagnosis.
- Medication to reduce inflammation, prevent acid reflux or treat ulcers or infections.
- Surgery to treat a more serious issue in any of the organs in the abdomen.
- Lifestyle changes to manage your pain and symptoms like changing your diet, avoiding certain types of food, getting regular exercise, and getting plenty of sleep.
Request more information on the causes of abdominal pain
Abdominal pain can be one of the most common symptoms reported by individuals who are experiencing issues along the digestive tract. Not all forms of abdominal pain, however, are preventable.
Consult the multidisciplinary team of health professionals including gastroenterologists and hepatologists at the Sydney Gut Clinic to diagnose the cause of your abdominal pain and coordinate your treatment.