Pain in the abdomen is the single most important symptom of an acute abdominal pathologic process. (Reference)
While most people do not understand the anatomy of their digestive systems, almost everyone has experienced abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea at some time. In evaluating what seem to be digestive symptoms, your doctor must suspect diseases of other systems as well.
Similarities of Symptoms
For example, sometimes a heart attack may cause symptoms identical to heartburn or indigestion. Similarly, a brain tumor can cause symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Because of these confusing patterns, it is especially important that you give your doctor a careful medical history when you describe any of these symptoms so that the real cause of the problem must discover.
Your Reaction after Continuous Abdominal Pain
If you have frequent, repeated, or lasting severe abdominal pain, you should see a physician. Try to describe the onset of the pain. If it came on suddenly over several minutes, it is likely due to a perforated ulcer or a blockage in the blood supply to your intestine. If your pain came on gradually over several hours, a diagnosis of appendicitis, gallstones, or even a pelvic infection may possible.
Causes of Abdominal Pain
The character of your abdominal pain is also a clue to the underlying cause. The Colic or spasm of a portion of your intestine is the most common cause of abdominal pain. This type of pain is usually caused by a blockage somewhere in your intestinal tract, which stretches the intestine behind the blockage. A burning or aching type of pain is more characteristic of an ulcer.
Area of Abdominal Pain
The location of your abdominal pain is likewise very critical in helping to determine its cause. Pain caused by appendicitis, for example, almost always settles in your right lower abdomen. Pain from bleeding of infection in your abdomen usually is widespread.
Common Symptoms of Abdominal Pain
Other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, when associated with abdominal pain, may give your doctor further clues to your diagnosis. Although nausea and vomiting are usually not symptoms of severe illness, they should not be taken lightly. The first sign of pregnancy will often be nausea and vomiting known as “morning sickness.”
Diarrhea is also a symptom that is usually not serious. The most common cause is probably a viral infection in your colon. However, the cause may be bacterial. Although your colon normally contains a massive growth of bacteria, a shift in the type, as occurs in “traveler’s diarrhea” or following the use of antibiotics, can sometimes cause severe diarrhea.
If your diarrhea persists with severe cramps, bloody stools, or fever and chills, get prompt medical attention. Your physician’s first question will almost always be “Have you traveled recently?”
Symptoms of Weight Loss
If your symptoms are persistent with weight loss, your doctor will look for more serious causes. Be prepared to discuss your diet, the character of your stool, the amount of your weight loss, any medications you are taking, or any other medical problems that you have. It is important to realize that any change in your bowel habits may be a very important symptom of a serious underlying condition.
- Treat any of these symptoms yourself only when they are mild and of short duration.
- Home treatments consist of avoiding any offending substance that you suspect has caused your nausea, vomiting, cramps, or diarrhea. Stay on a clear liquid diet until your symptoms go away in a day or two.
Doctor’s role when you are feeling abdominal pain
Your doctor will want to know how long you have had this symptom and how often you vomit. He/she will ask about the character of your vomit, and many doctors will want to see a sample and possibly test it for blood or other substances.