Lower "crampy" abdominal pain accompanied by bloating and diarrhea
or constipation can be signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), says Singh.
"It's exceptionally common and affects 15% of the U.S. population,
particularly younger women, although it can happen at any age." Symptoms
of IBS can usually be controlled by managing diet, lifestyle and stress.
Medication and counseling may be needed in some cases.
If you develop an aching or stabbing pain or pressure in the upper abdominal
area just under the ribs, this may indicate a heart-related problem, says
Kristine Arthur, MD, internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center
in Fountain Valley, CA. "This is particularly true if the pain persists
or you have other symptoms like shortness of breath. Many people blame
these symptoms on heartburn or indigestion." While indigestion may
be the case, anyone with risk factors such as diabetes or hypertension
should see a doctor as soon as possible, Arthur says.
5 Vague upper abdominal pain associated with nausea and belching
In older patients, vague upper and mid-abdominal pain associated with nausea,
burping and belching could be signs of a heart attack, says Robert Glatter,
MD, emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, and national
spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). "Obtaining
a simple ECG and even ordering cardiac markers known as troponin may be
lifesaving." Vomiting that occurs with back or jaw pain and shortness
of breath may also indicate a life threatening emergency.
6 Sudden and severe onset stomach pain
When mid-abdominal pain occurs suddenly — especially in people with
a history of peptic ulcer disease or in those who take excessive amounts
of aspirin or NSAIDs — it could indicate a perforation, which is
a surgical emergency, says Glatter. "Plus, the presence of free air
and gastric contents can lead to a condition known as peritonitis. This
may lead to septic shock as a result of contamination in the abdominal
cavity." Such an event requires surgery to seal the leak.
7 Right or left lower abdominal pain in women
Sudden onset of right lower abdominal pain or left lower abdominal pain
can indicate a ruptured ovarian cyst in a woman who is mid-cycle, says
Glatter. "Such pain could also indicate ovarian torsion (rotation
of the ovary and portion of the fallopian tube), or even a twisted ovary
as a result of a compromised blood supply." Seek treatment immediately
at the nearest emergency department. Surgery to remove the ovary may be required.
8 Knife-like pain in the lower abdomen
Pain that wraps around the lower stomach area, commonly accompanied by
nausea,vomiting, fever and chills, may be a sign of kidney stones. Ultrasound
or a CT scan is used to diagnose the stone, and NSAIDs provide some pain
relief, says Glatter. "Rescue narcotics (potent, immediate relief
drugs) may be required to relieve continued pain," says Glatter.
"Alpha blockers (medications used to relax blood vessels and lead
to increased blood flow) may also be helpful in allowing larger stones
9 Belly pain in the lower left side that's worse when you move
Abdominal pain in the left lower area of the abdomen may signify diverticulitis,
small pockets in the colon that can become obstructed and perforate, says
Glatter. Traditional treatment includes antibiotics and stool softeners
to reduce the risk of abscess formation. "Newer research suggests
that antibiotics actually may not be required and simple pain medications
such as acetaminophen may be enough," Glatter adds.