Non-threatening stomach ache, such as period pain, can be eased by resting, and holding a hot water bottle over the affected area.
What is a stomach ache?
The term stomach ache is used to describe any pain arising in the area of the abdomen, which extends from just under the bottom of the ribs to the top of the pubic bone.
What are the causes of stomach ache?
There are many different causes of stomach ache since every structure located within the abdomen (e.g. stomach, bowel, gallbladder, liver, spleen, appendix, kidneys, bladder and pancreas) may give rise to abdominal pain.
Also, the spine, back muscles, large blood vessels, and reproductive organs can produce pain felt in the abdomen. Occasionally, a heart attack can be the cause of abdominal pain.
The stomach ache is always a symptom of an underlying disorder. Diagnosis is therefore aimed at discovering the exact cause of the history of the pain, an examination, and further tests, if necessary.
Treatment given will depend on the cause and may be anything from a laxative for constipation to surgery or radiotherapy for cancer.
We have all experienced the stomach ache of one sort or another. Wind, indigestion, period pain and gastroenteritis are all common causes. However, obstruction or tumors of the abdominal organs can also cause abdominal pain, and although these are more serious, they are much less common.
What Are The Major Causes OF stomach ache?
Stomach ache has many different causes, which are including digestive disorders, such as indigestion, gastroenteritis, appendicitis, ulcers, irritable bowel.
When should I see my doctor?
You should see your doctor if the stomach ache is sudden and severe or if it persists for more than four hours.
Associated symptoms that warrant seeing your doctor immediately include blood in the urine, vomit or feces, weight loss, a change in the bowel habits, a previous history of a stomach ulcer, a high temperature, a burning sensation passing urine, a fresh blow to the abdomen and jaundice.
If you are pregnant and experience abdominal pain, you should also see your doctor.
If the pain is associated with diarrhea and vomiting, and you know that you have eaten something likely to cause it, then you should see your doctor. It may be food poisoning, and its cause should be identified.
What will the doctor do?
The doctor will ask some detailed questions to try and identify the likely cause of your pain. You will be examined.
If the cause of the pain is evident and severe, such as a perforated ulcer, appendicitis or a tumor, you will be sent to the hospital to see a surgeon who will discuss the implications of the pain with you.
An operation will probably be necessary. If the diagnosis is less clear, your doctor may order some investigations.
These will probably involve looking into the abdomen and may include particular types of X-ray, scans or gastroscopy or sigmoidoscopy (a visual examination of the inside of the stomach or bowel using a telescopic tube).
The doctor may also order blood tests or a microscopic review of the urine or feces.
What can I do myself?
Make a careful note of the nature of the pain: Where is it exactly? When did it start? Is it intermittent or continuous? Is it getting worse?
Did anything bring it on? Is it related to posture, is it better or worse when upright or lying down or when moving?
Do you have any other symptoms? Does anything make it better e.g. antacids, laxatives or a hot-water bottle? Is it related to your menstrual cycle?
What can I do to avoid stomach ache?
As the digestive system accounts for a significant proportion of stomach ache, a healthy diet high in fiber and low in fat will certainly reduce the likelihood of some causes.
Stomach ulcers are associated with smoking and a high alcohol intake, and can also be caused by taking aspirin too frequently. Gastroenteritis can usually be avoided by proper food hygiene.
Is stomach ache dangerous?
A stomach ache can be hazardous, depending on the cause, particularly if it is the result of a tumor, ulcer, appendicitis, bowel obstruction or ectopic pregnancy (although treatment of all these conditions is usually highly successful).
Advise on stomach ache
Most stomach ache is self-limiting and related to simple indigestion.Try to identify and avoid foods which produce these reactions.
Seek medical attention if you have pain that does not go away in a few hours or if other symptoms are present, such as fever, weakness, sweating, pallor or bleeding from the mouth or bowel.