Nearly everyone will experience a stomach ache at some point of time or the other. The causes of stomach aches are usually minor, which can be diagnosed and treated easily. However, in some cases, abdominal pain may signify a serious disease. If the pain is persistent or accompanied by other severe symptoms, it is recommended to consult a physician.
Some of the most common causes of stomach ache are listed as follows:
• Food poisoning
• Stomach virus
• Food allergies
• Lactose intolerance
• Menstrual cramps
• Pelvic inflammatory disease
• Kidney stones
• Urinary tract infection
• Gastroesophageal reflus disease
Stomach aches should be considered severe and a doctor must be consulted if it is accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:
• The inability to keep food down for many days in a row after eating a meal
• Inability to pass stool for a few days
• Frequent or painful urination
• Uncontrollable vomiting
• Stomach is tender to touch
• Pain persists for several days
• Pain is an outcome of abdominal injury
Urgent care may be required if the patient vomits blood, has bloody stools, experiences pain during pregnancy, or has difficulty breathing.
Determining the Cause of Pain
To treat stomach ache, it is most important to identify the underlying cause. The doctor will usually perform a detailed physical exam, listen to the patient’s description of symptoms and pain, and then arrive at a conclusion. Some of the questions that a patient should be prepared to answer are as follows:
➢ What is the severity of pain? Is it dull or stabbing?
➢ Is the pain localized to a part of the stomach or spread throughout the abdomen?
➢ When does the pain occur more often?
➢ How long has the pain been continuing?
➢ Does the pain radiate to the shoulders, lower back, buttocks, or groin?
➢ Does any activity such as lying on side relieve the pain?
Following an initial assessment, the doctor may conduct stool tests, blood tests, and X-rays to arrive a conclusion about the real cause of stomach ache. Depending on the cause, the treatment for stomach ache may range from drugs to reduce inflammation to antibiotics for infections. Surgery may be necessary if the ache has been caused due to hernia or appendicitis.