When it comes to common symptoms, abdominal, or stomach, pain ranks as one of the most common ailments that strike Americans. In fact, almost half of the general population will suffer from abdominal pain at some point in their lifetime. Remarkably, it’s the leading gastrointestinal symptom that triggers a visit to the doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital in the United States.
Perhaps it’s human nature, but sometimes when something is so common, we may assume it’s no big deal and that it will go away on its own or with over-the-counter medications. But did you know that abdominal pain might mean you have pancreatitis?
In this blog, the skilled team of health professionals at Formé Medical Center in White Plains, New York, takes a deep dive into abdominal pain so you can better understand the underlying causes and when to seek medical attention.
Types of abdominal pain
Abdominal pain is defined by location, duration, and severity of pain. It typically breaks down into four categories – generalized, localized, cramp-like, and colicky abdominal pain.
Generalized abdominal pain
Generalized abdominal pain causes discomfort in more than half of your stomach area. Minor conditions that you can generally take care of on your own, such as gas, indigestion, or stomach flu fall into this category. However, if symptoms linger or worsen, severe generalized abdominal pain may also be a symptom of an intestinal blockage.
Localized abdominal pain
In contrast to generalized abdominal pain, localized abdominal pain occurs in a targeted area, which may signal that there’s a problem with an abdominal organ like your intestines, stomach, gallbladder, or appendix.
Cramp-like abdominal pain
Cramp-like abdominal pain causes those all too familiar uncomfortable symptoms like gas pains, feeling bloated, and having a case of diarrhea. In most cases, cramp-like diarrhea can typically be chalked up to eating something that didn’t agree with you.
The pain and symptoms will pass when the offending food passes through your body.
But if the bloating and gas last longer than a day and are accompanied by a fever, contact your doctor for further evaluation.
Colicky abdominal pain
Colicky abdominal pain is particularly uncomfortable and may be a symptom of gallstones or kidney stones. With colicky abdominal pain, the pain is severe and acute and comes in episodes or waves that seemingly stop as suddenly as they start.
Wide range of underlying causes
When it comes to abdominal pain, there’s a wide range of possible causes from minor indigestion, heartburn, or food poisoning, to gallstones, kidney stones, ulcers, or issues with organs like the pancreas, and seemingly everything in between.
The rub is that when you suffer from abdominal pain, chances are you don’t really care about what kind of abdominal pain you have; you simply want the pain to go away. Being attentive to where you feel the pain and noting all your related symptoms can help you figure out when to go to the drugstore and when to contact your doctor.
Pancreatitis produces upper abdominal pain
Pancreatitis is a serious medical condition that results in inflammation of your pancreas. Your pancreas produces enzymes to digest food as well as two hormones — insulin and glucagon — that regulate how your body turns food into energy.
Pancreatitis manifests as localized abdominal pain in your upper abdomen. In some cases, the pain rotates to your back. The abdominal pain is often accompanied by fever, nausea, and vomiting, and may result in weight loss. Pancreatitis can come and go over the course of several days or may occur as a chronic condition over months or even years.
Seek medical attention if symptoms linger or worsen
Since serious conditions like pancreatitis may include many of the same symptoms as minor conditions, a good rule of thumb is to contact your doctor if symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea linger or worsen, or if you’re unable to have a bowel movement. Blood in your stool is another telltale sign that something serious may be going on.
If you’re suffering from abdominal pain, contact Formé Medical Center. Our highly trained providers perform a thorough examination and review your symptoms and medical history. Diagnostic testing like blood work, an ultrasound, X-rays, or urinalysis help us diagnose your issue.
Call our office or request an appointment online today so that we can address your condition and help you get back to feeling like yourself again.