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Tue, July 23

Abdominal pain - what does it mean?

Cramping. Nausea. Pain. When your stomach acts up, you want answers. Unfortunately, the source of abdominal pain is often elusive - there are many organs positioned in the abdomen that can be involved and a variety of factors that can lead to discomfort.

Unsettling symptoms

Constipation is one of the most common reasons for abdominal pain. If it has been a few days or more since your last bowel movement, call your doctor if the pain or constipation continues.

Diarrhea and vomiting are often caused by an infection known as gastroenteritis, or the stomach flu. The stomach flu is also characterized by fever, aches, chills and nausea. Use fever-reducing medicines, get rest and stay hydrated to beat this bug. Don't give children or teenagers aspirin without consulting your doctor, and seek medical treatment if an infant or young child shows signs of dehydration such as lethargy, dry mouth or decreased urination.

Pain can be assessed to help identify the source of the problem. If your pain is ongoing or acute and not specifically related to the stomach flu or food digestion (heartburn, overeating, constipation, gas), it may be a sign of something more serious. Consult your doctor if the pain doesn't subside or stop within several hours.

Abdominal ailments Appendicitis

The appendix is a small pouch that projects from the colon on the lower right side of your abdomen. In children and adults, the appendix can become inflamed and filled with pus, requiring surgical removal. If not treated, the appendix can burst and lead to a serious infection. Symptoms include abdominal pain near the navel or lower right abdomen, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and fever. Seek medical attention immediately if these warning signs are present.

Kidney stones

A kidney stone is a hard mass that develops when crystals separate from the urine in the urinary tract. Most kidney stones can be passed through the urinary system with plenty of fluids and pain medication. Kidney stones often cause pain that originates in the back, near the ribs, and moves down toward the groin. Symptoms include severe intermittent pain and blood in the urine is not uncommon.


A gallstone is formed when bile hardens in the gallbladder. If bile contains too much cholesterol or not enough bile salts, it can harden into stone-like material. Many people with gallstones have no symptoms, but some people experience gallstone attacks that often follow fatty meals and may occur at night. Treatment may involve surgery for gallstone removal. Symptoms include steady pain in the upper abdomen, migrating pain between the shoulder blades or under the right shoulder, abdominal bloating, intolerance of fatty foods, belching and indigestion.

Listen to your abdomen

The stomach, colon and kidneys send signals in the form of pain to get your attention - and so do the spleen, pancreas, gallbladder and appendix. The key is to pinpoint abdominal pain and the problems causing it so you can seek treatment and feel better. Consult your doctor if you experience any acute pain or persistent discomfort.


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