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Abdominal Pain

Abdominal Pain: What You Should Know

Just about everybody at one time or another will get a bellyache. Most causes of abdominal pain aren't worrisome, and your doctor can easily diagnose and treat the problem. Sometimes, though, it can be a sign of a serious illness. Learn which symptoms to watch out for and when you should get medical help.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Abdominal Pain?

Whether you've got a mild ache, sharp pain, or cramps, abdominal pain can have many causes. For instance, you might have indigestion, constipation, a stomach virus, or, if you're a woman, menstrual cramps.

Other possible causes include:

You may also get abdominal pain if you're lactose intolerant or have ulcers or pelvic inflammatory disease. Some other causes include:

When Should You Contact Your Doctor?

If your abdominal pain is severe, doesn't go away, or keeps coming back,

talk to your doctor. Call 911 right away if your belly hurts because you had

a recent injury there or if you have any chest pain.

You should also contact your physician  as soon as you can if you have

symptoms along with the pain, such as:

  • Fever

  • Can't keep food down for more than 2 days

  • Signs you're getting dehydrated, including not urinating frequently, dark-colored urine, and being very thirsty

  • Can't have a bowel movement, especially if you're also vomiting

  • Pain when you pee, or you need to urinate often

Also call your doctor if:

  • Your belly is tender to the touch.

  • Pain lasts more than a few hours.

You may also get symptoms that could be a sign of a problem inside your body that needs treatment as soon as possible. For example, get medical care right away if you have abdominal pain and you also:

How Does Your Doctor Figure Out the Cause of Your Abdominal Pain?

Since there are so many possible causes, your doctor will do a thorough physical exam. They also will ask you questions about your symptoms. They will want to know what type of pain you have. For instance, is it a severe stabbing pain or a dull ache?