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The type and location of pain may help the doctor find the cause. The intensity and duration of pain must also be considered when making a diagnosis. A few general characteristics of abdominal pain are:
What the pain feels like:
Abdominal pain can be sharp, dull, stabbing, cramp-like, knifelike, twisting, or piercing. Many other types of pain are also possible.
How long the pain lasts:
Abdominal pain can be brief, lasting for a few minutes, or it may persist for several hours and longer. Sometimes the abdominal pain comes on strongly for a while and then lessons in intensity for a while. Is the pain continuous or does it come and go?
Events that trigger pain:
The pain may be worsened or relieved by certain events, such as worse after meals, better with a bowel movement, better after vomiting, or worse when lying down. Do certain foods trigger the pain?
Location of the pain – The location often will help your doctor diagnose the cause of the pain.
- Upper left abdominal pain: Enlarged spleen
- Upper right abdominal pain: Gallbladder disease, hepatitis
- Lower left abdominal pain: Diverticulitis, ovarian cysts, ovarian torsion
- Lower right abdominal pain: Appendicitis, right ovary problems
- Upper abdominal pain: Stomach ulcers, gastritis, pancreatitis
- Lower abdominal pain: Urinary tract infections, gynecologic problems like uterine fibroids and cancer
Home Remedies that Soothe Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain without fever, vomiting, vaginal bleeding, passing out, chest pain, or other serious symptoms often get better without special treatment.
- If the pain persists or if a person believes the pain may represent a serious problem, they should see a doctor.
- A heating pad or soaking in a tub of warm water may ease the pain.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) antacids, such as Tums, Maalox, or Pepto-Bismol, also can reduce some types of abdominal pain. Activated charcoal capsules also may help.
- Acetaminophen (common brand names are Arthritis Foundation Pain Reliever, Aspirin Free Anacin, Panadol, Tylenol) may help. This product should be avoided if liver disease is suspected. Patients should try to avoid aspirin or ibuprofen (common brand names are Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, Pamprin IB) stomach or intestinal ulcer disease is suspected; these drugs can make the pain worse.
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