When to Worry About a Tummy Ache

Woman holding an apple with a hand on her abdomen. Focus on the apple.

Everyone, at some point, has experienced a tummy ache. There are many possible reasons why your stomach feels uneasy. Maybe you ate a little too much for lunch, or you had way too much to drink the night before. It’s also possible that you just have too much gas in your gut which is causing you to feel bloated and uncomfortable.

Whether the cause of your discomfort is due to overindulgence or something more serious, most tummy aches are typically harmless and only last a few hours at most. However, sometimes stomach pain can indicate an underlying health condition that needs urgent care. Here are some reasons to seek professional help when you have abdominal pain:

Woman suffering from stomachache pain. Girl having period bellyache. Health.

Severe Abdominal Pain

If you are experiencing severe stomach pain, it is likely that there is something serious going on inside your abdomen. You should immediately contact medical services for further evaluation and treatment.

There are a number of reasons behind severe abdominal pain. Ovarian cysts, for example, can cause stabbing pain on one side of your abdomen. If you have ovarian or fallopian tube pain, contact your doctor immediately — especially if it is accompanied by vaginal bleeding.

If you’re pregnant, it’s all the more reason why you should go to the hospital. Severe abdominal pain can signal preterm labor, which needs to be treated right away.

Prolonged Abdominal Pain

If you have severe or prolonged stomach pain, it may be a sign of intestinal blockage. Blockages in the intestine can cause vomiting and extreme stomach pain that continues for hours at a time. It’s also possible that your stomach may be distended or swollen. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s time to see a doctor immediately.

A normal stomach ache from eating a huge meal or from gas typically disappears within hours. If the stomach pain has been non-stop or returns now and then over a period of several days, something else could be the root of your discomfort. Call your doctor.

Abdominal Pain with Other Symptoms

There are also many other conditions that can cause abdominal pain along with other symptoms. For example, there are certain infections that might cause fever and nausea, but the stomach pain is more pronounced.

If you have a fever, vomiting, and diarrhea — it’s possible that you may have an infection caused by salmonella or another pathogen. In some cases, abdominal pain can be a result of dehydration from these conditions.

Other causes of abdominal pain include appendicitis and pancreatitis. Appendicitis feels like severe pain in your mid-upper right abdomen. This type of abdominal swelling is typically very sudden and requires immediate medical attention to avoid rupturing the appendix.

Pancreatitis can also cause stomach pain along with vomiting, particularly after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Pancreatitis is a serious condition that may require hospitalization for treatment.

If your stomach feels like you have a rock in your gut and it’s accompanied by fever and vomiting, get yourself to the ER right away.

Stomach Ache Following an Injury

It’s also possible to experience pain in your stomach following an injury. If you fell and you think that you may have injured yourself internally, then there is a chance that you could be experiencing some discomfort or even severe pain as a result of the injury. For example, if you hit your tailbone when you fell — it can cause severe pain that radiates into your lower back. In addition, if you hit or kicked your abdomen during the fall, it can cause a stomach ache as well.

Be sure to contact medical services immediately following an injury to make sure there were no internal injuries as a result of the trauma.

Rarely, Abdominal Pain Can Be a Sign of Cancer

Abdominal pain is one of the signs and symptoms of cancer. If your stomach pain persists for more than a few days, or it is accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, bloody stool, or vomit, contact medical services to get tested immediately.

However, stomach cancer is not very common. Do not assume that the pain you are experiencing is a result of cancer without first consulting medical services. Cancer is diagnosed through a CT scan, an ultrasound, a blood test for tumor markers, and a biopsy.

Abdominal pain is never pleasant. But if you’re not sure how serious it is, self-care can help ease the discomfort. In most cases, time will heal all stomach aches. However, if you’re concerned that something more serious is going on, it’s better to get checked by a doctor.

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