Contributed by: Healthians Team
Abdominal discomfort affects everyone at some point in their lives. Usually, abdominal pains are harmless conditions that usually occur due to causes such as gas pains, overeating, indigestion or a pulled muscle — that aren’t serious. However, frequent or sharp pain in the abdomen can indicate more significant medical issues involving one of the organs in the stomach.
In this post, we’ll explore what chronic abdominal pain is and some of the reasons for its occurrence.
FAQ #1: What is chronic abdominal pain?
Chronic abdominal pain is a long-lasting pain that is present for more than 3 months. It may be either continuous (present all the time) or intermittent (comes and goes).
FAQ #2: What are some common clinical symptoms of chronic abdominal pain?
- Sharp or dull stomach pain
- Pain that may arise and subside every few minutes or over several hours
- Pain in the belly
- Pain that may or may not have been caused by eating
- Pain that occurs at any time
FAQ #3: Is chronic abdominal pain a common condition?
Chronic abdominal pain is a common disorder in children and adults all over the world. It mostly affects more women as compared to men.
FAQ #4: What are the causes of chronic abdominal pain?
Abdominal pain can be caused by many conditions. The most common causes vary by age and include, but are not limited to,
In children, the most common causes are:
- Lactose intolerance
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
In young adults, common causes include:
- Certain drugs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Stomach irritation (caused by spicy foods)
- Liver disorders
- Gallbladder disorders
- Parasitic infections
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Intestinal disorders
- Infections in the throat, intestines, and blood
FAQ #5: How do I know if my chronic abdominal pain is serious?
The following symptoms are cause for concern:
- Fever and chills
- Loss of appetite and weight
- Pain that makes it difficult to stay asleep
- Blood in vomit, stool, or urine
- Severe or frequent vomiting or diarrhoea
- Swelling of the abdomen and/or legs
- Feeling unwell (malaise)
FAQ #6: How is the problem diagnosed?
Given that diagnosing the accurate cause of chronic abdominal pain is challenging, it is important to visit a qualified gastroenterologist if the pain is accompanied by the above-mentioned symptoms. To arrive at an accurate diagnosis, your doctor may consider:
- Medical history
- Clinical symptoms (vomiting, constipation or diarrhoea)
- Physical examination(to identify any tender areas, masses, or enlarged organs)
- Laboratory tests
- Family history of disorders that cause abdominal pain
- Information about diet, any activities that seem to trigger pain, any remedies tried, and the effects of the remedies
FAQ #7: What lab tests are usually ordered for chronic abdominal pain?
- Urinalysis, a complete blood cell count
- Blood tests to evaluate the functioning of the liver, kidneys, and pancreas
- A colonoscopy(if people are over 50 or have risk factors for colon cancer
- A computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen if people are under 50
- An ultrasound, if doctors suspect a gallbladder or gynecologic disorder
- An endoscopic evaluation, to look inside the gastrointestinal tract
FAQ #8: What is the line of treatment for chronic abdominal pain?
Abdominal pain is treated differently depending on the origin and symptoms. Medication, behavioural therapies, and dietary changes may be advised as part of a treatment plan.
For example, a lactose-free diet can help those with lactose sensitivity. When people are constipated, taking a laxative for a few days and increasing their fibre intake can assist.
FAQ #9: What are some dietary modifications for chronic abdominal pain?
- Consuming a high-fibre diet and fibre supplements
- Avoiding foods that trigger their pain
- Avoiding eating large amounts of foods that can be overwhelming to the digestive system
- Avoiding foods that produce a lot of gas
- Avoiding drinks that have high sugar content
- Staying hydrated
FAQ #10: What are some conservative therapies to help relieve chronic abdominal pain?
Some conservative therapies that can help people better tolerate their pain include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Drinking plenty of water
- Eating certain foods such as fibre
- Avoiding certain foods
- Using antacids
- Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol, especially if you have stomach pain caused by ulcers
- Avoiding greasy foods if you have gallbladder disease
FAQ #11: What are some Ayudevic herbs that help relieve abdominal pain?
There are various Ayurvedic herbs that have anti-inflammatory effects, thus reducing the pain and the symptoms. These herbs include:
- Chamomile tea
- Turmeric root
If you have debilitating or chronic abdominal pain, obtaining an accurate diagnosis of the origin of your symptoms is the first step in treating your pain. With the support and advice from gastroenterologists, you can be treated for any medical conditions that are the root cause of the pain.
You and your doctor can decide on the best treatment options based on your diagnosis so you can get back to your normal routine.