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Abdominal Pain

food poisoning

All adults occasionally experience abdominal pain or pain in the stomach and/or intestinal area that goes away on its own. However, sometimes abdominal pain can be an indication of a more serious problem (e.g. appendicitis.) So it’s important to know when to seek help.


Common causes of adult abdominal pain:

  • Constipation, diarrhea, or gas

  • GERD (movement of stomach acid into the esophagus)
  • Peptic ulcer (a sore in the lining of the stomach or small intestine) Inflammation of the gallbladder or pancreas
  • Gallstones or kidney stones
  • Herina (bulging of an internal organ through a muscle or other tissue) Urinary tract infections
  • In woman, menstrual cramps, fibroids, or endometriosis of the uterus


Abdominal pain can have many causes, so it is important to have it evaluated by your doctor. Be prepared to give details about your pain: where and when you feel it, what makes if feel better or worse, and if you have any other symptoms like fever, tiredness, nausea, vomiting or changes in bathroom habits. Certain pain needs emergency treatment, like appendicitis or a bowel obstruction. Other problems can be treated with rest, fluids or medications.

If you experience vomiting or diarrhea, sip water or other clear fluids. Then, when you are ready to return to solid foods, start with small amounts of easy-­‐to-­‐digest foods, such as applesauce, toast or crackers.


Call 911 -OR- Go to the hospital immediately if you:

  • Can’t pass stool and are vomiting Are vomiting blood
  • Also have chest, neck or shoulder pain
  • Have pain in your shoulder blades with nausea Have sudden, excruciating abdominal pain Have new pain unlike any you have felt before
  • Have a belly that is rigid, hard and tender to the touch


Call your doctor if you have:

  • Pain for more than 5 days bloating for more than 2 days diarrhea for more than 5 days Fever of 101 or higher
  • Pain that continues to worsen unexplained weight loss continued lack of appetite or blood in the stool


Tips for preventing abdominal pain:

  • Eat smaller amounts of food at one time avoid greasy, fried or other high-­‐fat foods Avoid foods that give you gas
  • Exercise regularly drink plenty of fluids


Prevent symptoms of GERD:

  • Quit smoking
  • Lose excess weight
  • Finish eating at least 2 hours before you go to bed or lie down
  • Elevate the head of your bed


Helpful Links

Suburban Gastroenterology