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Abdominal pain, also referred to as stomach or belly pain, is a well known and common symptom. Any pain situated between lower chest and perineum may be named as the abdominal pain. Each individual had, or will have this type of ailment in one point of life. Most of the times, it is temporary and do not indicate any serious condition. There are a lot of diseases causing this symptom, thus it may be hard to define the exact cause. Abdominal pain in most cases is caused by gastrointestinal tract or urinary tract disorders.
Abdominal pain characteristics
Abdominal pain origins from abdominal cavity and its surrounding area, occurring with different range in intensity. Most of these pains does not indicate any serious problems. Nevertheless, it should be remembered, that pain severity is not equivalent to seriousness of the disease. It means, that life threatening disease, such as cancer can result in mild or barely noticeable abdominal pain. On the other hand, gastroenteritis (infectious diarrhea) can cause strong belly pain, even though this condition is rather secure for general health.
Abdominal pain can be divided into few different categories, based on type and location:
- Overall pain, usually felt in larger area of patient abdomen. It can be caused either by virus or indigestion. In most cases, medical intervention is unnecessary.
- Pain similar to cramp, which can be felt as a result of bloating or gas. In general, this type of pain is not severe, but may be accompanied by diarrhea or fever. If it continues for longer than 24 hours, medical help is recommended.
- Localized pain, which is concentrated in one specific place and may represent organ disorder or inflammation. This can be the sign of a major issue. Medical advice is required.
Abdominal pain causes
Abdominal pain can show up as an effect of several illnesses, including those life-threatening. However, in most cases it results in less serious diseases, including:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Urinary tract problems
The most common disease resulting in those type of pain is inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, also known as gastroenteritis or infectious diarrhea, which accounts for 13% of all cases. Apart from this, another common conditions are irritable bowel syndrome and urinary tract problems, they are responsible for 8% and 5% cases respectively. Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) together with constipation represent 10% of the cases.
Abdominal pain can also be the cause of more serious disease, and what is worse, it can be accompanied by other symptoms. Moreover, in early stages of assumed condition the pain is mild or barely noticeable. Here are the most common serious diseases causing abdominal pain:
- Gallbladder diseases
- Pancrease problems
- Appendictis (appendix inflamation)
Abdominal Pain diagnosis
Immediate medical help is required, when the stomach pain is severe, intensifies during movement, forces to lay in embryonic position or continues for 24 hours or more. Those can be the signs of serious condition. Diagnosis can be made relying on either characteristics of the pain, physical examination of the patient, laboratory analysis or surgery.
Furthermore, belly pain can change over time, and even some typical symptoms for one particular disease can be misleading. Thus abdominal pain etiology is not always clear and easy to confirm.