4 Reasons for Abdominal Pain You Don’t Want to Ignore.

August 6, 2019

What’s Going on In Your Gut?

Abdominal pain is a common occurrence and can range from mild to severe and can have many causes, most of which are minor. Indigestion, gas, diarrhea and constipation are common symptoms, which could be the result of various factors including food allergies or intolerances, a high fat diet, ulcers or food poisoning. In some circumstances, abdominal pain is anything but normal. Seeing a doctor soon is important as varied diseases of the abdomen may have similar symptoms and should be evaluated immediately.

Gallstones

One serious cause of abdominal pain is gallstones. The symptoms associated with a gallbladder attack are often clear and pronounced. Shortly after a meal that contains a significant amount of fat, patients may experience abdominal pain, discomfort and indigestion. This subsides as the gallbladder relaxes over the next few hours. In some cases, gallstones can result in other severe symptoms with the abdominal pain including vomiting, recurrent indigestion or back pain. When gallstones are symptomatic, they require gallbladder surgery, known as cholecystectomy. For some patients, gallstones do not cause any discomfort at all.

If you are having gallstone attacks, we encourage you to speak to a qualified laparoscopic surgeon, such as those at Advanced Surgical Associates, to understand your diagnosis and treatment options. During an appointment, your doctor will discuss your past medical history and the nature of the symptoms you are struggling with. If one has not been performed already, an ultrasound may be ordered to visualize and confirm the gallstones.

Non-surgical treatment does exist for a few cases and may provide benefits to some patients. However, these techniques are often unreliable, temporary and less effective than surgery. Your healthcare team can help you determine the best course of action based on your unique circumstances and needs.

Diverticulitis

Pain in the lower left side of the abdomen, high fever, nausea and vomiting, constipation, and cramps can all be signs of diverticulitis. The location of the pain is often what makes us suspect diverticulitis. We confirm this diagnosis with imagining studies, which can give information on the extent of the issue.

Initial treatment will usually include antibiotics and pain relievers. The goal is to reduce inflammation and minimize pain. It is often recommended that patients start a full liquid diet to limit pressure on the colon and allow it to heal. More severe cases of diverticulitis can require surgical intervention including colectomy.

Hernia Complications

While not all hernias cause pain, when a hernia becomes trapped or strangulated, significant pain can occur. Strangulation or incarceration of a hernia is a problem as the protruding tissue is unable to perform its normal function, like pass waste, or loses blood flow and begins to die. Either of these cases require an immediate trip to the emergency room. In some rare cases, part of the intestine may require resection. Initially, hernias may not cause significant pain or require surgical treatment in the form of a hernia repair, but we always recommend having a possible hernia evaluated to avoid future complications.

Appendicitis

Patients are often not aware they have appendicitis until the situation is nearing a medical emergency. Because of this, appendectomy is most often performed in an emergency setting after the appendix has become inflamed and enlarged, or potentially bursts. There are warning signs, however, that the appendix is beginning to inflame. Patients sometimes notice an initial dull, or maybe sharp, abdominal pain. This can start in the central abdominal area and migrate to the lower right abdominal area. The lower right abdomen will be sensitive to pressure, but the more telltale sign of appendicitis is an increase in pain as pressure is released from this area.

If you are experiencing unusual abdominal pain, especially in the lower right side, it could be appendicitis. We recommend you contact your doctor immediately to discuss and evaluate if the cause could be your appendix. As appendicitis progresses, patients often experience vomiting and fever. By this time, the problem is likely at the point of a dangerous medical emergency that will require emergency surgery. Untreated, the appendix can burst. This can be deadly should it burst, as it can cause a serious infection in the abdominal cavity. The earlier you can seek treatment, the more likely you are to avoid this risk.

Bottom Line

If you are experiencing abdominal pain, it is best to not ignore it. While there are several minor causes for occasional abdominal pain, these typically resolve quickly or with the passing of gas or a bowel movement. If you suspect something different may be the cause, see your doctor.

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Advanced Surgical Associates is one of the first exclusively surgical groups practicing in Union County New Jersey. And that is just the first of many firsts for ASA. For over 40 years, we have pioneered breakthrough surgical patient care in North Jersey in both general and weight loss surgery. ASA also offers gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding to those suffering from obesity in New Jersey.
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