KNOW YOUR ABDOMINAL PAIN (CHART)
Abdominal pain can strike at any time, and sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether or not it is an emergency. This is because abdominal pain can occur as a result of numerous causes – including indigestion, intestinal gas, food poisoning, menstrual cramps, heartburn, gallstones, pancreatitis , inhibited blood supply to the colon (also known as ischemia), stomach cancer ,kidney stones, inflammatory bowel disease, umbilical hernia, appendicitis or a urinary tract infection.
If abdominal pain is mild and does not inhibit a person’s ability to function, or does not otherwise compromise quality of life, people generally choose to carry on, opt for an over-the-counter or home remedy, or schedule a non-urgent appointment with their medical practitioner. Sometimes, however, it is not easy to decipher whether or not your abdominal pain requires immediate medical attention. Abdominal pain can sometimes indicate serious illness and thus should not be ignored.
If your abdominal pain is severe or persists more than 24 hours, it is typically recommended by professionals that you see a doctor or go to the ER right away. You could very well be dealing with something as simple as cramps or minor food poisoning, but it would be beneficial to have a second opinion to rule out life-threatening illness. Pay close attention also to accompanying symptoms (for example fever, painful urination or constipation) and bring them to the attention of the physician. You should also call a doctor or get to a hospital immediately if your abdominal pain is accompanied by bloody diarrhea, bloody vomit, black stools, or fever above 101ºF / 38.3ºC.
A severe pain in the abdomen could mean appendicitis, which can be a life threatening problem. However, appendicitis is often difficult to diagnose in the early stages – and by the time it has become severe, it can be very dangerous. For example, the younger brother of the author of this article was diagnosed with the stomach flu by his doctor. The doctor sent him home, where he stayed drinking chicken soup and tea, thinking all he needed was rest and home remedies to recover. However, his condition worsened. When the pain became so severe that he was rushed to the Emergency Room, he received a far more extreme diagnosis: His appendix had ruptured and he needed an urgent laparoscopic appendectomy to save his life.
Although there is often “overlap” between the areas of the abdomen that may be in pain due to a particular cause, this general chart may be of value in a preliminary assessment. However, we do stress that (as with the rest of this website) this is not medical advice, and that appropriate professional medical care should be sought, especially in cases of greater severity.