Ultimate Guide to Lower Abdominal Pain
Are you worried about your lower abdominal pain? Have you tried different kinds of treatments?This symptom can indicate a series of problems. Every part of our body corresponds to different types of pain. I will share the best proven method, tips and advice in this article.
Abdominal pain is a fairly common complaint, especially among women and the elderly. It can be a sign of a benign problem or a serious disease. More often than not, the causes are not serious and the pain does go away on its own.
Diagnosing the cause of pain in the lower abdomen can be challenging, as there are many diseases that cause this symptom.The symptoms also contain lower left abdominal pain and lower right abdominal pain. These diseases can mimic one another too. Also, tests are not always abnormal and the characteristics of the pain may change over time. In addition, abdominal pain in men can be caused by different factors from those of women, and vise versa. But, generally the main causes are inflammation, infection, abnormal growths and intestinal disorders.
Abdominal Pain in Men: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment
Appendicit is is the sudden inflammation of the appendix, a small tubular tissue that extends from the large intestines. Because the appendix occurs in both men and women, it can cause pain in the lower part of the abdomen in both sexes. However, the condition is more prevalent in men than in women, making it a major causative factor of pain in men.
Appendicitis is caused by obstruction of the intestinal lumen, which results in invasion of the appendix wall by gut flora and fecal matter. If left untreated, an inflamed appendix will eventually burst, releasing infectious materials into the peritoneum (abdominal cavity). This leads to peritonitis, a serious condition that can be life threatening.
Apart from this pain, other symptoms of appendicitis include: loss of appetite, abdominal swelling, fever, nausea and/or vomiting, and inability to pass gas. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical care immediately, as prompt diagnosis and treatment is critical to preventing the condition from worsening.
Diagnosing acute appendicitis can be tricky. The condition can mimic other ailments such as gastritis, Crohn’s disease, bladder or urinary tract infection, or even gallbladder problems. To make the diagnosis, the following tests are usually carried out: CT scans, and/or ultrasound, blood test (to see if the body is fighting an infection, rectal exam, urine test (to rule out a urinary tract infection, and abdominal exam (to detect abdominal infection).
The treatment of appendicitis involves surgery to remove the inflamed appendix appendectomy.
2. The Inguinal Hernia
An inguinal hernia occurs when abdominal contents protrude through a weakness in the abdominal wall, bulging into the groin or scrotum. The resulting bulge may hurt or cause a burning sensation.
Most cases of inguinal hernia happen because of a birth defect (an abnormality that occurs before birth), where an opening in the abdominal wall doesn’t close as it should before birth. This weakness in the muscle wall evolves into a localized hole, or defect, through which stomach contents push through and bulge out.
Inguinal hernias are more common in young children and men. Overweight individuals, and people who do a lot of straining, lifting or coughing are also more likely to suffer from this condition. Additionally, pregnant women are at a higher risk of getting inguinal hernia because of the pressure on the belly wall.
The most common symptom of an inguinal hernia is swelling or a bulge in the groin/scrotum, which feels like a lump. The lump may form over a period of weeks or months, or it may appear suddenly after coughing, laughing, straining, bending, or lifting heavy weights. The swelling may be accompanied by pain, but some hernias cause a bulge. Sudden pain, nausea and/or vomiting are signs of strangulation, where the intestine gets trapped inside the hernia. Strangulation is a serious condition that can be fatal if not treated promptly.
An inguinal hernia is diagnosed through a physical exam. Lumps in the groin and scrotum are easy to detect. Ultrasound and herniography with injection of X-ray contrast agent into the peritoneum may also be used.
Like other hernias, surgery is the only way to treat an inguinal hernia.
3. Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are small pebbles that form in the kidney when salts and minerals in the urine stick together. They may remain inside the kidneys or travel out of the body through the ureter.
Kidney stones occur because of a change in the normal balance of salts, minerals, water and other substances found in the urine. The main cause of this problem is failure to drink enough water. Gout and hereditary factors may also increase the likelihood of getting kidney stones.
When a kidney stone travels through the urinary tract, it may cause pain and other symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, or urine that looks red or pink (because of blood).
Special X-rays or scans of the kidneys and urinary system is usually done to detect stones and to verify that a stone is not restricting the flow of urine.
Most kidney stones are small and pass out with the urine. Drinking plenty of water and fluids to improve the flow of urine is encouraged. However, procedures such as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL), ureteroscopy, and surgical stone removal may have to be performed in severe cases.
4. Crohn’s Disease
This is an inflammatory bowel disease that lasts throughout a patient’s life. It is characterized by swelling and deep sores (ulcers) in parts of the digestive system. The disease often affects the lower part of the small intestine and upper part of the colon.
The exact cause of Crohn’t disease remains unknown. But the disease can run in families.
The main symptom of Crohn’s disease is severe abdominal pain, which is accompanied by severe bouts of diarrhea. Some patients may experience bloody diarrhea. Other common symptoms include: reduced weight, bowel blockages, mouth sores, anal tears, and fistulas. Smoking, infections, and hormonal changes may worsen these symptoms. This disease is also associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer.
Crohn’s disease diagnosis is confirmed by a combination of physical exam, X-rays and lab tests. Treatment depends on the symptoms and the severity of the condition. Medication is usually given to patients to stop diarrhea and control inflammation in the intestines. A healthy diet and regular exercise are also encouraged to improve well-being.
Colorectal cancer, or bowel cancer, is a fairly common cause among the elderly. It occurs when abnormal cells grow in the colon or rectum. In most cases, it starts as polyps – small growths inside the colon or rectum – which are very common and typically harmless. But it’s extremely hard to identify ahead of time the polyps that will eventually turn into cancer. As a result, regular tests and removal of polyps are critical to preventing colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer diagnosis is made through colonoscopy. Polyps and tissue samples may also be removed in order to identify cancerous cells.
Surgery is the most common treatment for bowel cancer. But if the cancer has spread significantly, radiation or chemotherapy may need to be performed.
Abdominal Pain in Women: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment
1. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (or PID)
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a general term for infection of the female reproductive system, including uterus, ovaries and Fallopian tubes. PID is caused by an ascending infection from the cervix. It’s also a common and serious consequence of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs), especially chlamydia and gonorrhea. Bacteria enter the reproductive organs through the cervix and travel upward into the uterus and fallopian tubes. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is important, because PID can lead to serious complications, including chronic pelvic pain, abscess formation, ectopic pregnancy and infertility.
Aside from STIs, other risk factors for PID are: having unprotected sex, more than one sex partner, and bacteria vaginosis. Women who have had PID before, an abortion or an IUD inserted also have a higher risk of getting PID.
PID causes only mild symptoms in the initial stages. Most victims are not even aware of the disease. But as the disease progresses,abdominal pain – which worsens with sex, urination, and bowel movement – may be felt. Some women may experience a fever.
PID diagnosis requires swab tests (to see if it’s PID), blood tests (to look for signs of infection), ultra scans (to look for other possible causes), and sometimes a laparoscopy.
To treat PID, strong antibiotics are administered by mouth or injection. Intravenous administration of antibiotics is usually carried out in severe cases of PID. Sometimes surgery may be required to treat abscess – a pocket of infection in the reproductive system.
2. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary tract infection, or UTI, happens when germs invade the urinary tract. Most UTIs are bladder infections. If left untreated, bladder infection may spread into the kidneys, causing a kidney infection. A kidney infection is a serious condition that can lead to permanent kidney damage.
The germs that cause UTI enter the urinary tract through the urethra, a tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. These germs are typically found in the fecal matter and can move up to the bladder and kidneys, causing infections.
Urinary tract infections are more prevalent in women than in men. The obvious reason is because women have shorter urethras, which makes it easier for germs to travel up to their bladders. Sex also increases the likelihood of germs getting into the urethra. Other risk factors include: not drinking enough water, diabetes, pregnancy, and conditions such as kidney stones and enlarged prostate.
The main symptom of UTI is burning sensation when urinating. The belly may also feel heavy or tender. The other symptoms of the condition include: frequent urge to urinate, urine that smells bad and/or is cloudy, pain on the back (under the ribs), fever and chills, nausea and vomiting, kidney problems and a weak immune system.
UTI diagnosis is made through examination of the bladder as well as the kidneys, dipstick analysis of urine, urine microscopy, urine culture, and ultrasound evaluation of the urinary tract.
UTIs are usually treated with a round of antibiotics. Patients are also encouraged to urinate often.
3. Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramps can cause mild to severe pain in the abdomen, thighs and back. The pain begins right before or in the beginning of the period. It may be accompanied by headaches, constipation or diarrhea, dizziness, nausea, or fainting.
Menstrual pains are normal and they can be controlled using over-the-counter medications and at-home remedies. NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen can adequately relieve pain and menstrual cramps. Simple remedies such as applying heat on the abdomen, lying down with legs on an elevated position, laying on the side and bringing the knees up to the chest, as well as regular exercises can help relieve menstrual cramps.
4. Painful Ovulation (Mittelschmerz)
Mittelschmerz is a term used to describe women abdominal pain during ovulation. This pain can be mild or severe, and is felt about midway between menstrual cycles (during ovulation). Generally, it’s felt on one side and can vary each month, depending on which ovary is releasing the egg. A small amount of virginal discharge or bleeding may also occur.
Mid-cycle pain is a natural part of how the body works, and its exact cause remains unclear. The pain usually clears on its own after about 24 hours, so no specific treatment is necessary. Taking over-the-counter medications as well as applying heat onto the lower abdomen may help relieve pain.
5. Preterm Labor
Preterm, or premature, labor is labor that begins anywhere between 20 and 37 weeks of pregnancy. A full term pregnancy lasts 37- 42 weeks. Premature labor can be caused by a complication originating from the mother, the baby, or both. But usually the exact cause is never known. Risk factors associated with this condition are: being pregnant with twins or more, placenta abruptio (placenta separating early from the womb), drug and/or alcohol use during pregnancy, problems with the womb or cervix, and breaking of amniotic fluid before the start of contractions.
Preterm labor starts just like normal labor, with regular contractions followed by leaking of amniotic fluid from the vagina. Pain and a feeling of pressure are also experienced in the lower abdomen.
Treatment for preterm labor usually depends on the specific situation. Doctors may use medicine to try and delay the birth. This may or may not work. Antibiotics may also be administered to treat or prevent infection. If delivery is safer for the mother and baby, the labor may be allowed to go on.
This is a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus (endometrium) grows on different organs outside the uterus, such as in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines, and bladder. This condition is very common and doesn’t always cause symptoms. But it can cause pain in abdomen as well as other problems.
It’s not known what exactly causes endometriosis. But experts believe that the female hormone estrogen, which occurs in high levels during childbearing years, exacerbates the problem. The symptoms usually disappear after menopause.
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain in the lower abdomen, vagina or rectum, or lower back. The pain may get worse during periods, ovulation, sex, and when having bowel movement. Some women also experience heavy periods, bleeding between periods, blood in the urine or stool, or bleeding after sex.
Endometriosis diagnosis is usually made through a series of tests, including a pelvic exam, an imaging test such as an ultrasound, a CT scan or an MRI. A laparoscopy is usually carried out to confirm the existence of the condition.
While there’s no cure for endometriosis, there are effective treatments for the condition. Over-the-counter pain medications, birth control pills and hormone therapy can help control pain and minimize bleeding. Surgical procedure (laparoscopy) to remove scar tissue and implants helps eliminate pain and improve fertility.
7. Ectopic Pregnancy
This is a form of pregnancy in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, mostly in the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancy is a serious condition and requires prompt treatment to avoid potentially fatal complications.
In most cases, ectopic pregnancy is caused by fallopian tube damage, which blocks the fertilized egg from moving into the uterus. Some of the risk factors that contribute to damage to the fallopian tubes include: endometriosis, PID, smoking, surgery, and fertility treatments.
Ectopic pregnancy starts just like a normal pregnancy, with symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, sore breasts, and missed menstruation period. But key signs of the condition are women abdominal pain during pregnancy and vaginal bleeding. The pain is usually sharp on one side, but may spread to other areas of the abdomen.
Ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed through a pelvic exam, a blood test, and an ultrasound.
Medicine (methotrexate) can be used to treat the condition if it’s detected early. But surgery (laparoscopy) is safer and more effective than medicine if the pregnancy has progressed beyond the first few weeks.
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lower abdominal pain may have many causes, but regardless of the cause, pain that aggravates even after people have considered treatment or unusual pain should be consulted as soon as possible. If the assessment is made early, it can lead to better symptom management and a faster recovery.
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