Abdominal pain is a common complaint that can be caused by anything from a virus to lactose intolerance to appendicitis. The gastroenterologists at the Gastro-Intestinal Associates in Lima, OH, share information on several common causes of the pain and explain when you should call the doctor.
Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD)
GERD occurs when strong stomach acids flow into your esophagus, irritating the sensitive lining. Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD, but everyone who has heartburn doesn't necessarily have heartburn. If you experience heartburn at least two times per week or severe heartburn at least once a week, you may have the disorder. Other GERD symptoms include bad breath, nausea, hoarseness, cough, belching, difficulty swallowing, asthma, or an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
Lactose intolerance affects 65 percent of the world's population, according to Genetics Home Reference. Nausea, cramping, bloating, gas and diarrhea, and other symptoms occur because you can't digest lactose, a sugar present in dairy products.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome can cause cramps, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation. Symptoms often occur suddenly, spurring a mad dash to the restroom. You may be more likely to develop IBS if you're female, had a severe gastrointestinal infection or experienced traumatic events in the past.
Gallstones can cause severe pain in the center or upper right portion of your abdomen. Other symptoms include pain between the shoulder blades or in the right shoulder, nausea, and vomiting. You may be at increased risk of developing gallstones if you're female, 40 or older, overweight, have diabetes or regularly eat foods high in cholesterol or fats.
Inflammatory bowel disorders
Inflammatory bowel disorders, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, not only cause abdominal pain and unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms but may also damage your digestive tract. Symptoms of the disorders can include diarrhea, cramps, nausea, weight loss, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
When should I see a gastroenterologist?
Schedule an appointment with our Lima office if you experience abdominal pain that worsens or lasts more than a week, whether it's constant or intermittent. A visit is also a good idea if any of these symptoms occur in addition to pain:
- Frequent heartburn
- Bloody bowel movements
- Difficulty controlling bowel movements or a change in your habits
- Excessive belching or gas
- Appetite loss or unintentional weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Frequent diarrhea
- Joint pain
If you experience severe pain, especially if it's accompanied by a fever, make a trip to the emergency room.
Don't ignore your abdominal pain. Schedule a visit with the gastroenterologists at Gastro-Intestinal Associates in Lima, OH, by calling (419) 227-8209.