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What You Should Know About the Common Belly Ache

Abdominal pain is pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and groin. Almost everyone has pain in the abdomen at some point. Most of the time, it is not serious.

How bad your pain is does not always reflect the seriousness of the condition causing the pain. For example, you might have very bad abdominal pain if you have gas or stomach cramps due to viral gastroenteritis. However, fatal conditions, such as colon cancer or early appendicitis, may only cause mild pain or no pain.

There are several ways to describe pain to your doctor. These include:

Generalized pain — This means that you feel it in more than half of your belly. This type of pain is more typical for a stomach virus, indigestion or gas. If the pain becomes more severe, it may be caused by a blockage of the intestines.

Localized pain — This is pain found in only one area of your belly. It is more likely to be a sign of a problem in an organ, such as the appendix, gallbladder or stomach.

Cramp-like pain — This type of pain is not serious most of the time. It is likely to be due to gas and bloating, and is often followed by diarrhea. More worrisome signs include pain that occurs more often, lasts more than 24 hours, or occurs with a fever.

Colicky pain — This type of pain comes in waves. It very often starts and ends suddenly, and is often severe. Kidney stones and gallstones are common causes of this type of belly pain.

Many different conditions can cause abdominal pain. The key is to know when you need to get medical care right away. Call your provider if you have:

  • Abdominal discomfort that lasts a week or longer
  • Abdominal pain that does not improve in 24 to 48 hours, or becomes more severe and frequent and occurs with nausea and vomiting
  • Bloating that persists for more than two days
  • Burning sensation when you urinate, or frequent urination
  • Diarrhea for more than five days
  • Fever, over 100 F for adults or 100.4 F for children, with pain
  • Prolonged poor appetite
  • Prolonged vaginal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you have questions or concerns about your symptoms now, see a Mercyhealth health care provider at Virtual Visit Now.

Mercyhealth Virtual Visit Now gives you remote access to the best of health care from your phone, tablet or computer. Our Virtual Visit Now team can help you feel better from the comfort of your own home. After assessing your symptoms, they’ll recommend treatments that can include simple comfort measures, prescription medicine or an office visit.

Virtual Visit Now is not available for emergency care. If you need emergency care, please call 911.

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