Stomach pain is something that everyone experiences from time to time. It can be caused by poor diet habits, high stress, and other environmental factors. Luckily, while stomach pain may bring discomfort, the symptom often fades away within a few days. However, if you are experiencing chronic stomach pain frequently, it may be a sign of a more serious problem.
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What Causes Abdominal Pain
All you have to do is perform a quick Google search, and you’ll realize that there are tons of infections, disorders, diseases and even injuries that can lead to stomach pain and discomfort. Since it can be difficult to figure out what’s causing persistent or recurring abdominal pain, this is where a gastroenterologist can help shed some light. Common causes of abdominal pain include.
- Gastroenteritis (intestinal infection)
- Menstrual cramps
- Food allergies
- Food poisoning
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Appendicitis (sudden, sharp pain on the right side; requires immediate medical attention)
Your GI doctor will ask you a series of questions regarding your abdominal pain and any other symptoms you are experiencing to rule out certain conditions and to determine whether further testing is needed to make a diagnosis.
Since certain conditions such as Celiac disease or colon polyps can only be properly diagnosed through specific testing (e.g., endoscopy; colonoscopy) it’s important that you seek proper medical attention if your abdominal pain lasts for days or keeps returning.
See your Gastroenterology Specialist for these symptoms
There are some conditions that cause stomach pain and won’t go away without help from a gastroenterology doctor. Here are some symptoms that warrant a trip to a gastroenterology specialist when associated with stomach pain:
- Persistent Bowel Changes – While everyone experiences diarrhea or constipation from time to time, in most cases the issues will clear up on their own. However, experiencing recurring changes in bowel movements accompanied by stomach pain may mean it’s time to see your local gastroenterologist.
- Rectal Bleeding – If you are noticing blood in your stool or blood on toilet paper when you wipe, then there could potentially be bleeding occurring somewhere within your gastrointestinal tract. In most cases, anal bleeding is caused by someone minor such as external or internal hemorrhoids or an anal fissure. However, noticing persistent or heavy bleeding along with stomach pain could be a sign of something far more serious, and it is important to see a doctor right away.
- Sharp, Sudden Pain in Lower Right Side – Sometimes people experience severe and sudden stomach pain in the lower right of their abdomen area. This abdominal pain could be appendicitis. Some people will also experience other discomforting symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or abdominal swelling. Appendicitis-related symptoms often appear rapidly, intensely, and will only get worse, so it is important to schedule an immediate appointment with your gastroenterologist or seek emergency medical care.
- Worsening Stomach Pain – Experiencing persistent stomach pain should raise concern, especially if the discomfort begins to radiate to other parts of the body such as the back or shoulder. This could be a sign of a very serious issue related to your pancreas or gallbladder. If you’re dealing with a digestive condition that is affecting your pancreas, you may also experience nausea or vomiting, an increased heartbeat, or a tender stomach. A gallbladder attack is something that usually triggers sudden and severe stomach pain that can carry to the back or shoulders. Experiencing these discomforting symptoms should be followed by seeking immediate medical care.
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These are just a few of the various cases that a gastroenterology specialist will likely be able to help with. Depending on the severity and frequency of stomach pain, and any other symptoms you may be experiencing, they may recommend tests such as an endoscopy, colonoscopy, and state-of-the-art imaging to determine what is causing your stomach discomfort. Once the cause of your stomach pain is identified, your gastrointestinal specialist will create a tailored treatment plan to eliminate, reduce, or manage stomach pain and discomfort.
When should I see a doctor?
It’s important to recognize when abdominal pain requires immediate or professional treatment. You should seek emergency medical care if you are experiencing symptoms of appendicitis, or if your abdominal pain is accompanied by fever, vomiting, a lack of bowel movements, yellowing skin or dehydration. While not considered an emergency, you should still call our Triborough GI office if your stomach is tender to the touch or if you experience abdominal pain and make sure you get a proper diagnosis.