How to Know If Your Stomach Pain Is Serious

Stomach pain refers to an ache or cramps in the abdomen. In most cases, it does not last long and is therefore not serious. However, it could be a cause for concern when the pain becomes severe. Take note of the pain and any accompanying symptoms.  If the pain seems to worsen or not decrease over time, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.

It is essential to know when to get medical attention to care for any issues that cause problems later on. We will delve into the issue more and give tips on knowing if stomach pain is severe.

Understanding the Abdominal Pain

If you feel any pain below your ribs and above your pelvis, you have what is known as stomach or abdominal pain. The abdomen includes the stomach, large and small intestines, liver, and kidneys, among others.  It also comprises blood vessels, bones, and muscles.

The good news is that abdominal pain is ordinarily harmless.  Other times you may need relief from the symptoms, and over-the-counter prescriptions will work fine.

What Are The Causes Of Pain In Your Abdomen?

For many reasons, you could have pain in the abdomen, and taking note of the patterns and location is essential. Pains such as those caused by indigestion or a pulled muscle are generally not very serious and tend to resolve independently.  If the pain does not seem to settle after a few hours and continues for several days, you may need medical attention.

Types of stomach pain

Let us explore the different types of pain in a bit of detail below

  •  Acute Abdominal Pain

Acute abdominal pain will come with other symptoms and may last from a few hours to several days.   Some conditions requiring medical attention include appendicitis, cystitis, bladder inflammation, ectopic pregnancy, and fecal impaction.

  • Chronic, Episodic, or Intermittent Abdominal Pain

Chronic pain is challenging to diagnose because the symptoms tend to fluctuate and may not worsen over time.  Chronic pain causes include gastritis, hernia, Hiatal and inguinal, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, sickle cell anemia, and ulcerative colitis.

  • Progressive Abdominal Pain

As the name suggests, progressive abdominal pain will worsen over time.  You should be especially worried about this because it shows your deteriorating condition.  It could also indicate conditions such as cancer, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis, lead poisoning, and pancreatic and stomach cancer, among others.

When Should You See A Doctor?

You will need to see a doctor if the pain comes with other symptoms.  Please take note of the following and seek medical attention immediately if they occur.

  • Pressure in the chest
  • Severe pain that lasts for several hours
  • Any bleeding, especially if you’re pregnant
  • Scrotal pain in men
  • Persistent vomiting, especially if there is blood
  • Blood in the urine or stool
  • High fever and sweating
  • Inability to urinate or pass stool
  • Swelling or tenderness.  You will notice this when you touch the location of the pain. Please do not ignore the symptoms because they could indicate a bigger problem.

Diagnosing the Cause of Abdominal Pain

As indicated above, abdominal pain has many causes and can be challenging to diagnose.  Sometimes it is indicative of a bigger problem like heart attacks or pneumonia.  Other times, the reason is as simple as eating the wrong food.

The abdomen is also made up of so many structures and organs. , it can be especially challenging for a doctor to diagnose the exact cause of the pain.  Sometimes a doctor will base his decision on the kind of answers you provide.

In other cases, the doctor will prescribe medication and send you back home without any time.  In other cases,    especially where the pain is progressive, the doctor may want to conduct a few tests. In some cases, the pain will be immediately apparent; other times, it will not be.

What Kind Of Tests Should You Expect?

  In severe cases, the doctor will determine that you must undergo a series of tests.  Such tests include:-

  • Rectal, penile, or scrotal checks
  • Pregnancy test,   together with a check of the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
  • Blood  and enzyme tests for any infections
  • Urine tests
  • X-rays,  ultrasound,  CT scans, and ECG to rule out heart attacks
  • Endoscopy to check the internal organs without going through surgery.

Abdominal Pain in Children

Abdominal Pain in Children
Abdominal Pain in Children

Knowing when a child has abdominal pain can be difficult, especially if they are not speaking yet.  However, there are some symptoms you can watch out for that will give you a clue.  The child will cry incessantly, refuse to eat, vomit, or continuously rub their stomach.

Those who can talk will be able to describe the symptoms.  Children generally suffer from issues like constipation and gas. These issues are easy to resolve, and a simple stomach massage can help.


Sometimes, your little one could suffer from gastroenteritis, bladder infections,   pneumonia, or strep throat. The conditions usually come with other symptoms like vomiting, fever, decreased appetite, fast breathing, and head and belly pain.

A quick trip to the emergency room will quickly reveal the cause of the pain. The pain will go away within a day or two of taking proper medication, and your little one will be on the road to recovery.

When You Should Worry

It would help if you were very observant of the child and their behavior.  There are conditions like appendicitis and intussusception that present as stomach pain.

Appendicitis starts with pain around the navel and localizes on the right lower belly.  You will notice that your little one is clutching that side to stop any movement. While we’re not saying you should panic and throw the child over your shoulders in a rush to the emergency room, be watchful.

If you realize that the situation seems to be worsening, or other symptoms like fever and clamminess are starting to present, then, by all means, rush to the emergency room.

Intussusception is an excruciating intermittent kind of pain.  Check to see if your baby is pulling their legs up in the air, throwing up bile, or having a bloody bowel movement. Children between the ages of six months to 6 years are especially susceptible.

Watch out for the following symptoms in a child and call your Healthcare provider immediately after you observe them.

  • Bloody stool
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Recurrent vomiting
  • and intense pain that lasts more than one hour
  • Inability to eat anything over a long period
  • Fever that is greater than 39 degrees centigrade over a three-days.
  • Frequent or painful urination
  • , lethargy or lack of responsiveness

Stomach Pain in Women

Burning Pain in Stomach
Burning Pain in the Stomach

Women generally tend to suffer from pelvic pain, and the causes are many.  These reasons include inflammation,   indigestion, abnormal growth, and blockage resulting in loss of blood supply, among others.

Some pain also comes with problems within the reproductive system, the most common being menstruation.  Other times it could be due to genital tuberculosis, irritable bowel syndrome, and even ectopic pregnancy.

Some positive news is that some of the conditions are easy to treat, such as constipation and gas. States like gastroenteritis only require sufficient hydration through drinking water to resolve.

When to Worry

If you have severe pain that starts suddenly, it could indicate a serious problem. If the pain does not seem to diminish over several hours, and you also have nausea, lack of appetite, dizziness, and black tarry stool, you may need to start worrying.

You could be suffering from kidney stones blocking the urine flow.  If left untreated, you could damage your kidneys resulting in end-stage renal disease.

Another culprit is appendicitis, and for this, you need prompt treatment. If your appendix bursts, the pus could inflame the tissues of the abdomen, and it can be life-threatening.

Untreated cystitis can lead to infection of the kidneys.  An untreated hernia is also dangerous because the organs can decay and die. The result would be severe septicemia, which could be fatal.

If you press your tummy and there is a lump, you may want to check it out immediately because it could be cancerous.

Abdominal Pain during Menstruation

Abdominal pain during menstruation is quite common.  However, some conditions may require urgent medical attention, like fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and genital tuberculosis.

In some cases, PMS may require surgical intervention if the symptoms are very severe.   Polycystic ovarian syndrome also presents with irregular, painful periods.

Persistent pain in your pelvic area could indicate that you have fibroids and will, therefore, require medications or surgery.  The pelvic inflammatory disease will affect the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus.  If you do not seek medical attention, it may result in infertility and damaged kidneys.

Abdominal Pain during Pregnancy

During pregnancy, do not ignore any bleeding or severe abdominal pain. It could be indicative of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.

Stomach Pain in Men

Stomach Pain in Men
Stomach Pain in Men

Stomach pain in men will occur due to various reasons, including appendicitis, gallbladder disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.  For men older than 50 years, other common causes include bowel obstruction,   pancreatitis, and peptic ulcers, among others.

When to Worry

If you realize your fever is above 39.4 degrees centigrade or 38 degrees, consult your doctor immediately for those above 60 years.  Other things to look out for include when the whites of the eyes become yellow, pain, and feeling excessive weakness.

Men may also experience pain in the lower abdomen due to constipation, appendicitis, hernia, testicular torsion, ulcerative colitis, and kidney stones.

Other reasons for lower abdominal pain include food poisoning, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, cystitis, and diabetic ketoacidosis.  Most of these conditions will present with bloody urine, and it may be a cause for concern.

If you have stomach cramps, dehydration, frequent and painful urination, vomiting, blood in the urine and stool, and pain that does not seem to stop, it may also be a cause for concern.

Treatment for the different symptoms could range from hydrating well, using heating pads, over-the-counter medication, or even surgery in some cases.

Final Thoughts

Long-term recurring pain could indicate illnesses such as IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcers, and urinary tract infections. You are the best judge of your body; if anything feels off, consult your doctor.

In the case of younger children, you need to be incredibly observant. Check for vomiting, high fever, lethargy, blood in the stool or urine, frequent need to urinate, and constant crying, among others.

Again, as a parent, you will need to use your intuition in some cases and apply some home remedies to bring relief. However, if the child is not responding well, it will not hurt to take a trip to the emergency room.

Women tend to suffer from many stomach pains due to different reasons. Severe PMS or infections of the reproductive organs can lead to lifelong problems or even fatality.  If you are pregnant and observe any sports, it could be an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.

Taking careful note of symptoms is also important for men because it could indicate many issues.  If the pain persists for up to 24 hours, and you feel tenderness or observe some swelling, make an appointment to see the doctor as soon as possible.

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