Just about everybody at one point or another will experience abdominal pain. Most of the causes are not serious and can be readily diagnosed and treated. However, pain can also be a sign of a serious illness. It's important to be able to recognize symptoms that are severe and know when to call a doctor.
All women will experience pain in the lower abdomen from time to time. Most commonly this can occur due to their periods or menstruation. In many cases it is difficult to diagnose the exact cause of the pain, but noting certain features will help your doctor come to a diagnosis. The most common causes are a urinary disorder, such as bladder or kidney problems, a bowel problem or a problem with the reproductive system – the uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Lower abdominal pain in men is a fairly common complaint and most involves either the gastrointestinal, urinary or reproductive system. Because of the many systems involved, there can numerous causes of lower abdominal tenderness in men, which often varies in terms of intensity, frequency and duration. Pinpointing the exact cause can be challenging but is necessary to treat the pain.
If your abdominal pain is severe or if it is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider as soon as possible:
- Inability to keep food down for several days
- Inability to pass stool, especially if you are also vomiting
- Painful or unusually frequent urination
- The abdomen is tender to the touch
- The pain is the result of an injury to the abdomen
- The pain lasts for several days
Whether it's a mild stomach ache, sharp pain, or stomach cramps, abdominal pain can have numerous causes. Some of the more common causes include:
- Crohn's disease
- Food poisoning
- Food allergies
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Kidney stones
- Lactose intolerance
- Menstrual cramps
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Stomach virus
- Urinary tract infection
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