Everyone gets stomach pain from time to time. In most cases, abdominal pain isn’t serious and can be eased by resting, going to the bathroom, avoiding foods that bother your tummy, and other common at-home therapies.
But in some cases, abdominal pain signals a more significant problem. At Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida, our triple board-certified gastroenterologist John M. Rivas, MD, understands that knowing when to seek help for abdominal pain can be confusing.
It’s always better to err on the side of caution and see a provider if you’re worried about abdominal pain. Here, we let you know signs that your abdominal pain could be a cause for concern and when it’s time to seek help.
Signs it’s time to be concerned about abdominal pain
First, if you’re having chronic abdominal pain, you should schedule an appointment with a specialist. Ongoing abdominal pain isn’t normal and is usually a sign of an underlying condition.
Sometimes, sudden abdominal pain represents a serious problem. Don’t wait to see a provider if you have any of the following signs:
- Severe and sudden abdominal pain
- Significant abdominal pain that lasts more than a few hours
- Abdominal pain in a specific location (rather than general “tummy” pain)
- Abdominal pain that radiates to other areas of your body (e.g., testicles)
- Abdominal pain that worsens with movement
- Abdominal pain that worsens when you press your belly
- Abdominal pain accompanied by bloody stools, fever, jaundice, abdominal swelling, or ongoing nausea and vomiting
You should also seek medical attention if you have abdominal pain and you have a history of abdominal surgery and/or trauma, are pregnant, or have significant underlying medical conditions.
In addition, if you have abdominal pain along with chest pain, call 911 or head to your nearest emergency room, as it could be a heart attack.
Common underlying conditions that trigger abdominal pain
The key to ending chronic or recurring abdominal pain is discovering the underlying cause.
For most people, ongoing abdominal pain isn’t an emergency. But that doesn’t mean the condition triggering your pain isn’t serious.
If you’re experiencing ongoing abdominal pain, one of the common conditions could be to blame:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Celiac disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Liver disease
- Urinary tract infections
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Kidney stones or infection
Other things, like food allergies, reproductive concerns (such as endometriosis), parasitic infection, pulled muscles, and more can also trigger abdominal pain. That’s why seeking help from a specialist like Dr. Rivas and the team at Rivas Digestive Center is key.
How we help ease your abdominal pain
To ease your abdominal pain, Dr. Rivas must first diagnose the cause of it. The diagnostic process begins with a review of your symptoms, medical history, family history, and any relevant lifestyle factors.
Dr. Rivas also performs a comprehensive physical exam to rule out certain conditions. He may also order diagnostic tests to uncover the underlying cause of your condition, including:
- Blood tests
- Stool tests
- Abdominal ultrasound
- Liver tests or imaging
- Upper endoscopy
- MRI or CT scan
The right treatment depends on the underlying cause. Once Dr. Rivas understands the root problem, he works with you to create the most effective treatment plan possible.
For help with ongoing abdominal pain, schedule an appointment online or over the phone at the Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida.