It may vary in severity, ranging from dull and achy to cramp-like and sharp.
Kinds of Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain may be classified into four types, depending on the region, cause and severity of symptoms. These are:
- Generalized pain - Occurs in more than half of the abdominal area. It is typically experienced during a viral infection, indigestion, or when there is gas. In severe cases, this pain may cause obstruction of the intestines.
- Localized pain - Occurs in a specific area of the abdomen. It is mostly depictive of a problem with a particular organ in the abdominal region (appendix, stomach, etc.).
- Cramp-like pain - Not very serious. May occur due to bloating or distention, and is often accompanied by diarrhea. The condition is serious if this sort of pain occurs frequently with a fever.
- Colicky pain - Severewave-like sensation of pain. It usually comes and goes abruptly. Gallstones and kidney stones may cause this.
Some Conditions that May Cause Severe Abdominal Pain
There are a number of different conditions which may manifest symptoms that include abdominal pain. Some of the most common ones are mentioned below.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a collection of various symptoms that occur simultaneously. It is more common in women as compared to men. It is also referred to as irritable colon, spastic colitis, spastic colon and mucous colitis. Symptoms may be minor, but for some individuals they may become debilitating. IBS usually causes abdominal cramping or discomfort, constipation, bloating and even diarrhea. Severe cases may result in intestinal damage as well.
Menstruation is a normal monthly phenomenon in a women's life. It involves the shedding of the uterine lining, which is brought about by changes in female hormonal levels, namely estrogen and progesterone. The shed lining of the uterus passes through the cervix and manifests through the vagina as blood. Slight abdominal cramping is normal, but if the pain becomes excessive and intolerable, the condition is medically known as dysmenorrhea, and may be accompanied by a problem in the uterus or pelvic organs. Dysmenorrhea may be primary (pain just before and during menstruation) or secondary (periods that later become painful).
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI's)
The urinary tract involves the kidneys, the urinary bladder, the ureter (connecting the kidneys to the urinary bladder), and the urethra. UTI's may develop in any of the above mentioned components. They may be caused by bacteria, viruses and even fungi. Apart from abdominal discomfort, pain during urination and irritation or burning in the urethra is among the common symptoms.
Appendicitis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the appendix. In case of a mechanical or bacterial obstruction of the appendix, it may become severely infected and develop pus. The increased pressure due to this obstruction causes severe abdominal pain. It is categorized as a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment. Complications of this condition include rupturing of the appendix, compression of local blood vessels and peritonitis (inflammation of tissue lining the abdominal wall).
Intestinal obstruction results from the complete or partial blockage of the small intestine or the colon. This limits the passage of digested food and fluids. Intestinal obstruction may lead to abdominal distention, irritation and severe discomfort. It is often the result of infections, diseases of specific organs, and in the case of infants, restriction of blood flow to the intestines.
Gallstones are rigid deposits that may develop inside the gallbladder. They may be composed of cholesterol, bilirubin (from the breakdown of red blood cells), salt or cholesterol. Gallstones vary in sizes; they may be tiny and may even acquire the size of golf balls. Depending on this, along with certain other factors such as obstruction of ducts, these stones may cause very unpleasant abdominal symptoms.
A peptic ulcer is a sore that may develop in the lining of the esophagus, stomach or small intestine. This excoriation of the lining mainly occurs as a result of H.pylori infections, or when the lining comes into direct contact with the acids of the stomach. The most common and significant symptom is a burning sensation in the abdominal, ascending from the navel up to the chest.
Treating abdominal pain will depend on the condition and the severity of its symptoms. Certain types may be subdued by simple medication, while others may require hospitalization.
It should be kept in mind that abdominal pain can be a symptom of a condition that requires immediate medical attention. This is the reason it is a good to get yourself checked by a doctor.
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