Abdominal pain (gastralgia) is not a spontaneous disease, but, like other types of abdominal pain, they can have many causes and can be the symptoms of various diseases. Abdominal pain is attributed to different pain sensations in the upper abdomen (usually on the left side), but the pain itself is not always localized in the stomach. Abdominal pain can be stitching, cramping or pulling and themselves are not cause for concern. However, if abdominal pain is accompanied by other symptoms and/or occurs repeatedly, you should consult your doctor.
Abdominal pain after meals
Abdominal pain may occur spontaneously, for example, with intolerance of too fatty and abundant food, and may be a symptom of any disease. In order to establish the causes of abdominal pain, it is necessary to pay attention to concurrent factors. Abdominal pain, accompanied by heartburn and belching, may indicate the presence of reflux disease, in which the stomach contents often moves back into the esophagus.
Abdominal pain after meals is usually harmless, if occurs rarely. In this case, it is usually the result of taking hard-to-digest food and resolve quickly, since even stretching the stomach wall after a plentiful feast can lead to abdominal pain.
Some foods cause bloating and therefore can lead to abdominal pain. Avoid milk, sweets, pork, onions and cabbage, as well as alcoholic beverages, caffeine, and quit smoking. Food should contain a moderate amount of salt, and be not too hot or cold. Provide enough time for eating; avoid stress or distractions while eating, such as discussion, business lunches, television and radio.
Abdominal pain: symptoms indicate causes
If abdominal pain accompanied by other symptoms, they may have more serious causes. Abdominal pain after meals, accompanied by a feeling of heaviness and nausea, up to the abdominal incisions, may indicate inflammation of the gastric mucosa (gastritis), stomach or duodenal ulcer. Gastric bleeding may occur at a late stage of such diseases, as well as bloody stool. Abdominal pain can last from 20 minutes to 2 hours after meals, for example, when caused by flatulence due to irritable bowel syndrome.
Another cause of abdominal pain may be pancreatic inflammation (pancreatitis), which, unlike unpleasant but harmless irritable bowel syndrome, can lead to death (acute pancreatitis). Chronic pancreatitis, by contrast, can lead to pancreatic cancer, which diagnosed often at a later stage. Gastric cancer can also manifest itself in the form of abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weight loss and nausea.
Abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea
Intestinal flu is one of the most common diseases that cause abdominal pain, which occurs due to viruses. Such viruses can enter the human body not only from another person, but also after consumption of spoiled food. First, strong vomiting with diarrhea and spasms in the stomach indicate food intoxication. Symptoms usually occur within six hours after ingestion.
Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, bloating and belching can be symptoms, to varying degrees, of irritable bowel syndrome or intolerance to milk sugar (lactose), fruit sugar (fructose), gluten or histamine. Additional symptoms of lactose intolerance include fatigue, sleep disorders, depressive mood, nervousness, concentration disorders, dizziness, headaches, pains in the extremities, and acne.
Depending on the severity of lactose intolerance, it is recommended to limit or completely refuse from consuming milk and dairy products. People with such intolerance usually have to change their diet totally, as milk sugar, which causes abdominal pain contained in many other ready-made products and sausages.
Causes of abdominal pain: disease or psychosomatics?
The cause of abdominal pain is not always an organic disease. Stress, depression, nervousness, sadness, fears and anxieties affect our stomach. Even in the presence of psychological reasons, abdominal pain can be accompanied by eructations, heartburn, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. On the other hand, pains in the stomach, or more precisely, sensations of abdominal pain may indicate an (acute) health hazard or a disease that could initially be associated with other symptoms.
If pain localized in the area under the right costal arch, then it can indicate pain in the liver, presence of gallstones or hepatitis. The pain on the left side with spreading to the hand, accompanied by a feeling of tension in the chest and anxious conditions, can be caused by myocardial infarction.
Abdominal pain: a symptom of what disease?
Severe and sudden spasms of the stomach, fecal and bile vomiting, constipation and bloating indicate the presence of intestinal obstruction. If the stomach is hard and tense, breathing is difficult and there is an increase in pulse, then the cause may be acute peritonitis. If you suspect this, you should immediately consult a doctor.
Any woman suffering from abdominal pain during pregnancy should become concerned. Although pregnant women experience abdominal pain often, in the early stages of pregnancy it can be caused by uterine contractile activity, fetal shock or premature birth (these reasons should also be taken seriously), however, true abdominal pain during pregnancy is rare.
The abdominal pain can be associated with common complaints such as heartburn or digestive problems; in case of severe and repetitive pains in the stomach, you need medical examination to rule out any hazard to health of the mother and child.
Abdominal pain: diagnosis
Since abdominal pain can be a symptom of many diseases, the doctor will collect medical history, ask you in detail about symptoms of the disease and concurrent events. At the same time, he will ask you about how often pains occur in the stomach, when they occur in the first place, where they are localized, whether they occur after eating (certain) food and whether your weight has decreased.
In addition, an analysis of your life habits will be conducted, which will make it possible to determine whether the cause of abdominal pain is nicotine dependence, frequent use of alcohol, increased acidity, medication intake, lack of physical activity or psychological stress.
If after the first physical examination by means of palpation of the abdominal area, auscultation with stethoscope and ultrasound the doctor can not make an accurate diagnosis, you will be recommended to have a blood test performed and, as a next step, gastroscopy. If necessary, it may be advisable to conduct a colonoscopy as well.