Acute abdominal pain accounts for about seven percent of all emergency room visits in the United States. While some of these cases can stem from injuries from falls or other traumas, others originate with acute or chronic disease processes, such as infections or stomach ulcers.
Let’s talk about who is most at risk for abdominal pain, what conditions may cause it, and where you can go for effective abdominal pain management in Manatee and Sarasota Counties.
Your Digestive System
Your digestive system is highly innervated and is nourished by an intricate blood supply. Its many organs include everything from the salivary glands in your mouth to your esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines and rectum. Additionally, your abdomen houses your liver, pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts, all of which play important roles in breaking down nutrients to forms usable by your body, regulating metabolism, filtering toxins, and more.
Abdominal Pain Indicates Something Is Wrong
Categorized as acute, sudden, chronic, or ongoing and progressive or worsening, abdominal pain, for the most part, is abnormal. Of course, women in their child-bearing years usually experience menstrual cramps to one degree or another. However, these are not from a disease process, malformation or anatomy defect or a degenerative condition, such as Crohn’s disease.
So, in general, if you experience pain in the upper and lower quadrants of your abdomen–that is, above and/or below your belly button–something is wrong.
Common reasons for acute abdominal pain are:
- Infections, such as gastroenteritis (from food poisoning or the flu), Utis (related to the kidneys and bladder), diverticulitis (infected pockets in the colon), appendicitis in the lower right quadrant, bowel obstructions, and pancreatitis
- GERD, or acid reflux disease, involving back up of acid from the stomach into the esophagus
- Cirrhosis, a degenerative condition of the liver usually associated with excessive alcohol or drug intake
- Lactose intolerance and other food sensitivities
- Ulcers in the stomach and intestines
- Gallbladder disease, including gallstones
- Bowel obstructions related to hernias and other conditions
Chronic and progressive abdominal pain, i.e., pain which persists and even worsens–may be attributable to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. IBS causes pain, loose and bloody bowel movements and nutritional deficits. It affects the large bowel. Crohn’s disease–more serious and harder to treat than IBS–impacts the digestive tract from the stomach down. It has strong hereditary and autoimmune components and may cause substantial pain.
Risk Factors for Abdominal Pain
What biological elements and lifestyle habits lead more people than others to develop conditions which feature abdominal pain? Researchers vary in their conclusions; however, the following seem to be commonalities for many health problems which feature abdominal pain:
- Stress and poor sleep habits
- Alcohol and substance abuse (high risk for developing cirrhosis of the liver)
- Family history (especially true in the case of IBS)
- High fat diet (along with high carbs and low fiber intake)
- Lack of regular exercise
- History of trauma and abuse–both sexual and physical
- Previous abdominal surgery
- Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications
- Gender: more women than men report and seek treatment for abdominal pain
Abdominal Pain Assessment and Treatment in Manatee and Sarasota Counties
At Intercostal Medical Group, our board-certified internal and family medicine physicians provide effective solutions for the entire range of digestive problems and are delighted to help patients fully understand their diagnoses, treatment options, and what they can do to take better care of their digestive health and, if necessary, can refer to a specialist. Specialties offered at Intercoastal Medical Group include gastroenterology, general surgery, gynecology, urology, and many more.