Abdominal pain

Specialty of Paediatrics

What is abdominal pain?    

Abdominal pain can be a symptom of many conditions. It is the name given to pain that radiates between the chest and the groin. The most common cause is: constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies or intolerances, or food poisoning. There are different types of abdominal pain, including: 

  • Burning pain: could be caused by gastritis, an ulcer, or reflux.
  • Colic pain: could be due to intestinal issues such as diarrhoea or constipation. For females it could be due to menstrual problems and the pain may be located around the uterus.
  • Stitches: caused by excess gases or abdominal swelling. 

Condition prognosis         

Condition prognosis depends of the cause of the abdominal pain. The causes may range from simple issues such as excess gas to more complicated conditions such as appendicitis or kidney stones. When a person has abdominal pain, the cause of it must be looked at thoroughly to be able to properly treat it. There are some symptoms which may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as:

  • Having a temperature above 38 ºC
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the stools
  • Sudden weight loss 
  • Apathy or pallor.

What are the symptoms?

Different symptoms may indicate what is causing the abdominal pain. It may simply be due to indigestion, however when the pain is strong, it may be due to a more serious issue with the appendix, the gallbladder, the pancreas, or the kidneys among others.  

Medical tests

Different tests can be carried out to determine the cause of abdominal pain:

What causes it?

There could be many causes for abdominal pain, it is important to find the cause and seek medical attention as soon as possible. The most common causes for abdominal pain include:

How can it be prevented?

Abdominal pain can be prevented by following a healthy and balanced diet, and eating small meals often. This will help digestion. It is also important to maintain a healthy weight and to exercise regularly. Stress in known as a cause of cramps and nausea.  

What is the treatment?    

Treatment will depend on the cause and location of the pain. The specialist will recommend what treatment should be used after careful examination. Treatment to treat mild causes include:

  • Antacids if the pain is due to indigestion or reflux.
  • Antiflatulents to relieve pain caused by gas or diarrhoea.
  • Antibiotics used to treat infections. 

What specialist should I see?

Generally, the specialist who treats abdominal pain is a gastroenterologist. Digestive system specialists study the digestive tract including the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, anus, as well as the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. This specialty treats common issues and pathological issues. It treat conditions that may affect other parts of the body and other organs.           

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