Known as a stomachache or a bellyache, abdominal pain occurs between the chest and the pelvis region.
Fortunately, the top gastroenterologists in Houston can diagnose and treat all types of abdominal pain. Abdominal pain can feel like cramps, a dull pain or a sharp one, or general ache. The pain can be persistent, or it can come and go.
There are several main types of abdominal pain: localized or generalized, cramp-like, and colicky. Localized abdominal pain is limited to one specific area of the abdomen, whereas generalized pain not in one specific area. Cramp-like pain is often associated with diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or intestinal gas. Colicky pain comes on suddenly and may feel like a severe muscle spasm.
Diseases or inflammation can affect the various organs in the abdominal cavity to cause abdominal pain. The major organs in the abdomen include:
- Appendix, which is part of the large intestine
- Small and large intestines
Causes of Abdominal Pain
A number of conditions, such as infection, abnormal growths, obstruction (blockage), inflammation, and intestinal disorders, can cause abdominal pain. Viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections that affect the stomach and intestines may cause significant abdominal pain.
Infections in a patient’s throat, intestines, or blood can cause bacteria to enter the digestive tract to cause pain. These infections may also result in diarrhea or constipation to cause abdominal pain. Menstrual cramps can cause lower abdominal pain, although they typically cause pelvic pain lower in the body.
Other common causes of abdominal pain include:
- Stomach flu or gastroenteritis
- Acid reflux, a condition in which the contents of the stomach leak backward up into the esophagus to cause heartburn and other symptoms
A number of digestive diseases can cause chronic abdominal pain. The most common of these conditions include:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a long-term condition that causes chronic acid reflux
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a condition that causes abdominal pain along with cramping and changes in bowel movements
- Crohn’s disease, which is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Lactose intolerance, a condition in which the digestive tract is unable to digest the sugar in milk and milk products, known as lactose
While most causes of abdominal pain are not serious, some causes of severe abdominal pain can be serious. These serious conditions include:
- Appendicitis, ruptured appendix, or the rupture or near-rupture of another organ
- Gallstones, which are hardened deposits of bile that can develop in the gallbladder
- Kidney stones
- Kidney infection
Diagnosis and Treatment of Abdominal Pain
Treatment for abdominal pain depends largely on its cause. Doctors perform a variety of tests to determine the underlying causes of pain. These tests include blood and urine tests along with colonoscopy, endoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy that involve the use of a flexible tube with an attached camera. Depending on the cause, treatment may include medications or surgery.
If you are experiencing abdominal pain, consult with the gastroenterologists in Houston at Allied Digestive Disease Center of Houston.