Abdominal pain can occur from anywhere below your chest to your pelvis. The pain can range from mild to severe. Abdominal pain can be acute, meaning it just started hurting and it can also be considered chronic, meaning it’s been going on for a while. The pain is different for everyone and is described as being sharp, cramp like, or dull and steady. Some experience other symptoms along with it as in vomiting or diarrhea.
Most mild cases of abdominal pain are caused by common viruses or inflammation of the stomach. However, pain that is more sudden and severe is termed “acute abdomen.” This is considered a medical emergency. Acute abdomen can be caused by appendicitis, ectopic pregnancy, gallstones, diverticulitis, bowel perforation, abscess, ruptured cyst in the ovary, pancreatitis, or a perforated ulcer.
Mild or severe, abdominal pain should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
When should you call for help?
Call anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You pass maroon or very bloody stools.
- You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
- You have new, severe belly pain.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- Your pain gets worse, especially if it becomes focused in one area of your belly.
- You have a new or higher fever.
- Your stools are black and look like tar, or they have streaks of blood.
- You have unexpected vaginal bleeding.
- You have symptoms of a urinary tract infection. These may include:
○ Pain when you urinate.
○ Urinating more often than usual.
○ Blood in your urine.
- You are dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.