GI Health | Abdominal Pain
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Symptoms and Treatment

Abdominal Pain: What to Watch for

Abdominal pain is very common. In fact, everyone has had abdominal pain or stomach pain at some point in their lives. Most of the time, the cause is not serious and can be diagnosed and treated easily. Abdominal pain can sometimes, though, be a symptom of a more serious gastrointestinal problem or illness. If you experience severe abdominal pain along with any of the following symptoms, contact a GI doctor to schedule an appointment:

  • Abdomen is tender to the touch or in pain for several hours
  • Bloody or difficult to pass stools
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Inability to pass stools
  • Pain from a recent injury to the abdomen
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting blood or vomiting frequently

Causes of Chronic Abdominal Pain

  • Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
  • Endometriosis
  • Ovarian cyst/cancer
  • Kidney stones
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Appendicitis
  • Cholecystitis
  • Chronic hepatitis
  • pancreatitis
  • Colon cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Gastric (stomach) cancer
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • Parasitic infections
  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Post-operative adhesive bands
  • Lead poisoning (uncommon)
  • Abdominal migraine
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBD)
  • Functional bowel disorders
  • Food allergies
  • Porphyria (uncommon)
  • Familial Mediterranean fever (uncommon)
  • Sickle cell disease (uncommon)

Causes of Acute Abdominal Pain

The causes of acute abdominal pain are categorized by region: right upper quadrant (RUQ), epigastrium, left upper quadrant (LUQ), mid abdomen (near the belly button), right lower quadrant (RLQ), sub-umbilical (below the belly button), and right lower quadrant (RLQ):

  • RUQ – cholecystitis, pneumonia, pyelonephritis, gallstones, gastritis and liver lesions
  • Epigastrium – pancreatitis, cholecystitis, esophagitis, ulcers, stomach cancer, gallstones
  • LUQ – gastritis, ulcers, splenic infarct, pancreatitis, pneumonia, pyelonephritis
  • Mid Abdomen – appendicitis (early), small bowel obstruction (SBO), mesenteric ischemia, abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), incarcerated hernia
  • RLQ – appendicitis (late),inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), pyelonephritis, hernia, Crohn’ disease
  • Sub-Umbilical – IBD, diverticulitis, UTI, ovarian cysts
  • LLQ – pyelonephritis, diverticulitis, hernia

Diagnostic Tests for Abdominal Pain

Since there are many possible causes of abdominal pain, a gastroenterologist will perform a thorough physical examination, discuss the symptoms and perform testing to help diagnose the pain. These tests may include an endoscopic exam, blood test, stool test, urine test, X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan. At the Center for GI Health, Dr. Nowain performs state-of-the-art endoscopic diagnostic procedures for gastrointestinal patients:

  • Capsule Endoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Upper Endoscopy
  • H. pylori and hydrogen breath test

How Is Abdominal Pain Treated?

Once your gastroenterologist determines the cause of your abdominal pain, treatment will begin, ranging from anti-inflammatory medications, to antibiotics for infections to changes in personal behavior or diet. In some cases, surgery might be necessary.

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Get in Touch with Dr. Nowain

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