Causes of Abdominal Pain | The Emergency Center

What’s Causing Your Abdominal Pain?

Abdominal, or stomach, pain is a common reason for people to visit emergency rooms. While it’s not always a sign of something serious, it is something you should always take seriously.

Your abdomen includes a large region extending from just below your chest to your groin. Abdominal pain has a number of causes, including food poisoning, the “stomach flu,” appendicitis, and intestinal blockage, among many others.

It’s not always easy to determine what’s causing your abdominal pain or even when you should seek emergency care. But a good rule to follow is that if the pain is sudden and severe, head to The Emergency Center. You should also seek emergency treatment if any of the following symptoms accompany your pain:

  • blood in your stool or vomit
  • chest pain (which could indicate a heart attack)
  • fainting
  • fever
  • pain that localizes and becomes severe in just one place
  • tenderness or swelling in your abdomen
  • uncontrolled nausea and vomiting
  • yellow skin

In addition, always visit an emergency room for severe abdominal pain associated with trauma.

Generally, however, abdominal pain can occur in the following ways, each of which can help you identify its cause.

General Abdominal Pain

Pain you feel in more than half of your abdomen is considered “generalized.” It occurs with stomach viruses, indigestion, and gas. However, very severe, generalized pain could be a sign of an emergency, such as an intestinal blockage or diabetic ketoacidosis.

Stomach Cramps

Often, these are not serious and indicate menstrual cramps or digestive issues, such as gas or bloating. However, there are cases when stomach cramps signify serious emergencies. For example, they are a symptom of severe food allergies, or anaphylaxis.

Pain in One Area

Doctors call this “localized” pain. It’s can occur with appendicitis, gallstones, or pancreatitis and generally requires prompt treatment. Sudden severe pain in the lower abdomen can also be a sign of a very serious condition called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Pain That Comes in Waves

This is often referred to as “colicky” pain. People with conditions such as kidney stones or gallstones often describe their pain this way. It requires immediate attention.

Pain That Radiates

The causes of radiating abdominal pain can be hard to pin down. For example, a urinary tract infection can cause pain that radiates to your back. Gallbladder pain can be felt in the upper abdomen as well as in between shoulder blades. Heartburn can cause chest pain—but chest pain that occurs with abdominal pain could also signify a heart attack.

Never hesitate to visit The Emergency Center to determine the cause of your abdominal pain. We can assess your symptoms and help you determine whether your pain requires emergency treatment or could be treated at a doctor’s office or urgent care facility.

Learn more about abdominal pain, and if you need immediate medical attention, visit one of The Emergency Center’s three locations in Arlington, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.

Sources: merckmanuals.com, medlineplus.gov, acep.org