Types Of Abdominal Pain That Require Urgent Medical Attention

July 9, 2019

Sometimes, everyone gets the unpleasant surprise of abdominal pain. In most cases, we understand what’s causing it thanks to fairly accurate localization. But this doesn’t mean that anyone without a medical degree can establish the real culprit. Besides, sometimes the place of the unpleasant sensation differs from the affected area.

Africa Studio /

There are many organs in the abdominal cavity:

  • the digestive tract (stomach, small and large intestines);

  • the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas functioning together with it;

  • pelvic organs (the bladder, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries) are also sometimes referred to as abdominal organs, not to mention certain parts of the circulatory system.

Dmytro Zinkevych /

The organs of the abdominal cavity perform a wide range of functions, including digestive and excretory, they also ensure the correct functioning of the circulatory and endocrine systems, and detox our body. The abdominal muscles, in particular, the diaphragm, are directly involved in breathing. So what does pain in different places mean?

1. Bottom right

Nagging or sharp pain in the right lower abdomen may be a sign of appendicitis. If it is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, gas formation, loss of appetite, constipation or diarrhea, fever and, especially, cramps, you need to seek urgent help. Peritonitis and a rupture of the swollen appendix are among possible complications. As a result, the pus contained in it enters the abdominal cavity, which can be fatal. Remember that in the case of appendicitis, pain can radiate to the belly button, the back or the upper abdomen.

2. Center-right and top

Pain in this area often indicates problems with the gallbladder, located just under the liver. This may indicate cholelithiasis, cholecystitis, infections, abscesses, the presence of polyps, and even a malignant tumor. The red flags include:

  • cyclicity of pain;

  • nausea and vomiting;

  • fever and chills;

  • darkening of the urine.

Dean Drobot /

3. Bottom left

The lower part of the large intestine is a place of the formation of diverticula – small protuberances on the mucosal membrane. Usually, they don’t cause any discomfort, but they make themselves felt with a sharp pain in the lower abdomen on the left in the presence of local inflammation or rupture. Other symptoms of diverticulitis are hypersensitivity, nausea, and vomiting, fever, constipation, and sometimes diarrhea.

SizeSquare's /

4. Stomach area

Stomachache can be caused even by something as ordinary as overeating. But if it occurs regularly or becomes chronic, especially after eating, it is a symptom of a peptic ulcer. Heartburn, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and frequent belching with a sour taste may also indicate this condition.

Roman Samborskyi /

5. On the right under the ribs

Pain in this area usually indicates problems with the liver, pancreas, kidneys, duodenum, or gallbladder. Keep in mind that sometimes it is a symptom of osteochondrosis (usually in the thoracic spine) or diseases of the reproductive system in women.

OBprod /

6. Burning below the breastbone

In most cases, this is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux. That is, gastric acid enters the esophagus (which it normally shouldn’t) and causes a burning sensation. Sometimes pain in this area is also a symptom of a heart attack or acute appendicitis.

7. Discomfort across the entire abdomen

This symptom often indicates problems in the functioning of the small intestine as this organ occupies most of the abdominal cavity. Sometimes this occurs due to lactose intolerance, although inflammatory processes or cancer can’t be ruled out.

Abdominal pain can be temporary and completely harmless. But it is not advised to postpone a visit to the doctor if it is recurrent, severe, or permanent.

You need urgent medical attention if the pain is accompanied by the following:

  • high fever;
  • dehydration;
  • discoloration of the urine or stool;
  • the presence of blood in the stool or vomit;
  • severe nausea;
  • constipation and lack of urination (or the complete opposite);
  • swelling of the abdominal tissues (which may also result from an injury);
  • yellowing of the skin, a change in the color of the whites of the eyes;
  • as well as during pregnancy.

Despite the fact that any pain is a cause for concern, the actual culprit may not be too serious. In any case, it needs to be established and treated by a competent doctor.

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.