While most people have experienced an occasional stomach ache due to indigestion or other common stomach issues, severe abdominal pain may indicate an underlying medical condition. While there are numerous potential causes, some are more commonly associated with intense abdominal discomfort. Here are seven common reasons for severe abdominal pain and when you should seek medical care.
1. Gastrointestinal Issues
Conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract can lead to severe abdominal pain. Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as conditions like diverticulitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), can cause intense pain, cramping, and discomfort.
Gallstones are solid particles that can form in the gallbladder, a small organ beneath the liver. When gallstones block the flow of bile, it can result in severe abdominal pain, especially after eating fatty meals. This pain is often concentrated in the upper right abdomen and may radiate to the back or shoulder.
Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix, a small pouch located in the lower right abdomen. When the appendix becomes inflamed, it can cause severe pain that typically starts around the belly button and then migrates to the lower right abdomen. Appendicitis often requires surgical intervention.
4. Kidney Stones
The presence of kidney stones, hard deposits that form in the kidneys, can lead to severe abdominal pain. When a kidney stone moves through the urinary tract, it can cause sharp and intense pain in the lower abdomen, back, or side. Additional symptoms may include blood in the urine and urinary urgency.
5. Ectopic Pregnancy
In women of childbearing age, severe abdominal pain may be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. This occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, commonly in the fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancies are medical emergencies and require immediate attention.
6. Peptic Ulcers
Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the lining of the stomach, small intestine, or esophagus. These ulcers can cause severe abdominal pain, particularly after eating or on an empty stomach. The pain may be described as burning or gnawing and can be relieved temporarily by antacids.
Inflammation of the pancreas, known as pancreatitis, can cause severe abdominal pain that may radiate to the back. Pancreatitis can result from various causes, including gallstones, alcohol consumption, or certain medications. The pain is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and tenderness in the upper abdomen. In severe cases, it may require hospitalization or surgery.
It is essential to note that severe abdominal pain may also be indicative of other serious conditions, such as a perforated organ, bowel obstruction, or aortic dissection. Prompt medical attention is crucial when experiencing intense abdominal discomfort, especially if it is persistent, associated with other concerning symptoms, or if there is a history of underlying medical conditions. Seeking immediate medical evaluation helps in diagnosing the cause of the pain and initiating appropriate treatment to address the underlying issue. At Rapid Immediate Care, we can perform diagnostic testing and exams to determine the cause of your abdominal pain. Call our clinics in Crystal Lake or Hoffman Estates, IL, for an appointment. We also offer online booking and walk-in appointments at both locations.