What Is Abdominal Pain?

Abdominal pain is one of the most common complaints for which patients visit their primary care provider or a gastroenterologist.

Abdominal pain can be mild and transient, often treatable with over-the-counter remedies. However, recurrent or persistent abdominal pain, especially if associated with symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, nausea/vomiting, or change in bowel habits can be a sign of an underlying illness that requires immediate attention by a gastroenterologist.

The abdominal cavity contains many organs and abdominal discomfort can be due to an acute or chronic disease related to the stomach, pancreas, appendix, gallbladder, spleen, small bowel, colon, liver, genitourinary tract, or the peritoneum.

It is therefore important to seek evaluation for abdominal pain. 

Causes of abdominal pain include

  • Bile duct inflammation
  • Bladder, kidney, or spleen infection
  • Cardiac disease
  • Colon cancer
  • Constipation
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Excessive gas and bloating
  • Food allergies
  • Food or lead poisoning
  • Gallbladder inflammation
  • Gallstones
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Gluten intolerance (Celiac disease)
  • Heightened ketone levels (diabetic ketoacidosis)
  • Hernia
  • Indigestion
  • Inflammation of the abdominal lining (peritonitis)
  • Inflammation of the appendix (appendicitis)
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Inflammation of the small intestine (duodenitis)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis)
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Intra-abdominal malignancies
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Kidney disease
  • Kidney stones
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Large intestine inflammation (diverticulitis)
  • Poor blood flow to the intestines (mesenteric ischemia)
  • Liver disease (hepatitis)
  • Lymphatic cancer (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma)
  • Pneumonia
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Stomach lining inflammation (gastritis)
  • Stomach virus or flu
  • Strained, pulled, or injured abdominal muscle
  • Swollen lymph nodes (mesenteric lymphadenitis)
  • Torn or punctured colon
  • Ulcer(s)
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Fallopian tube inflammation (salpingitis)
  • A fertilized egg outside your uterus (ectopic pregnancy)
  • Infection of your reproductive organs (pelvic disease)
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Ovulation pain (mittelschmerz)
  • Tissue growing outside your uterus (endometriosis)

Your doctor will need to obtain a thorough history and physical as well as order/review lab work and/or imaging study in order to make an accurate diagnosis. The treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis for abdominal pain.

To make an appointment with one of our gastroenterologists for evaluation, please contact us 

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