There’s no question that stomach aches can be nerve-wracking, at best, and debilitating at worst. Abdominal pain is a common yet concerning symptom that many of us experience at some point in our lives. While some cases might be mild and self-limiting, others could be indicative of a more serious underlying condition that requires immediate medical attention. Explore some of the most common causes of abdominal pain and learn about the red flags that warrant medical attention below.
The Most Common Causes of Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain can stem from various factors, including:
- Indigestion and Gas: Overeating, consuming spicy or fatty foods, or swallowing air while eating can lead to indigestion and gas, causing discomfort in the abdomen.
- Gastroenteritis: Commonly known as the stomach flu, this viral or bacterial infection can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
- Gastric Ulcers: Open sores on the lining of the stomach often cause a burning sensation and sharp pain in the abdomen.
- Gallstones: Hardened deposits in the gallbladder can lead to intense pain, especially after eating fatty meals.
- Appendicitis: Inflammation of the appendix can cause severe pain in the lower right abdomen, requiring immediate medical attention.
- Kidney Stones: When small, hard mineral deposits form in the kidneys, they can cause excruciating pain as they pass through the urinary tract.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A chronic disorder affecting the large intestine, IBS leads to abdominal cramping, bloating, and changes in bowel habits.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss.
When Seeking Medical Attention is Urgent
While some cases of abdominal pain can be managed at home with rest and over-the-counter medications, certain warning signs necessitate immediate medical evaluation. These red flags include:
- Severe and Sudden Pain: Intense, sharp, or stabbing pain that comes on suddenly requires immediate attention from a medical professional.
- Fever and Chills: Abdominal pain accompanied by a high temperature and chills could indicate an infection and needs prompt medical assessment.
- Persistent Vomiting: The inability to keep fluids down can lead to dehydration. Medical intervention may be necessary.
- Bloody Stools: Blood in the stool could indicate various gastrointestinal issues, some of which are serious and require urgent evaluation.
- Abdominal Trauma: If the pain is the result of an injury to the abdomen, don’t wait. Seek prompt medical care.
Should I Go to Urgent Care for Abdominal Pain?
Urgent care centers like Quality First offer several advantages for individuals experiencing abdominal pain:
- Prompt Evaluation: Urgent care facilities provide timely medical assessment, ensuring that potentially serious conditions are addressed without delay.
- Comprehensive Diagnostic Services: Many urgent care centers have on-site diagnostic tools like X-rays and lab tests, facilitating quicker diagnosis.
- Expertise in Acute Care: Urgent care providers are equipped to handle acute medical issues like abdominal pain and can refer patients to specialists if needed. Quality First Urgent Care, for example, is 100% staffed by emergency medical professionals.
- Convenience and Accessibility: Urgent care centers often have extended hours, including weekends, and do not require appointments for immediate attention.
If you experience severe or persistent pain or encounter any of the red flags mentioned above, medical attention at an urgent care facility is essential for timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Reach out to Quality First Urgent Care to schedule an in-person or telemedicine appointment today, or simply drop by our Burtonsville or Clarksville clinics, which are open daily.