Stomach pain

What causes stomach pain?

Stomach or abdominal pain may have its origins in the small intestine, large intestine, liver, gallbladder, spleen or the pancreas. There are many reasons for abdominal pain. It may even be a result of tissue damage around the abdomen. Commonly it is a result of gas or a blockage causing stretching. Often it’s due to inflammation and occasionally it may be when not enough blood is getting to one of the organs.

A diagnosis can be made following a series of checks. Where exactly is the pain? What are the characteristics of the pain? When does it occur? How long does it last? What pattern does it follow? Is it for a short time after a meal or does it last for days? What relieves the pain? Will food, pressure, or release of gas relieve the pain? What makes it worse? How long has it been going on for?   Are there any other symptoms like fever? There are many questions a practitioner may ask a patient before making a diagnosis.

Sometimes it may be necessary to have some laboratory tests. A Complete Blood Count (CBC) will look at white blood cells, which may indicate inflammation or infection, it’ll look at liver enzymes for gallstones and pancreatic enzymes for inflammation of the pancreas. Urine tests will check for blood in the urine while a stool test will, amongst other things, will check for while blood cells suggesting inflammation. There are many other tests from and ultra sounds to an endoscopy. Diagnosing the causes of abdominal pain can be a challenge.

The following list of conditions covers most of the common causes:

  • Trauma or injury
  • Appendicitis
  • Indigestion and gas
  • Gallstones
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gastroenteritis and food poisoning
  • IBS, Ulcerative colitis, Stomach ulcers
  • SIBO or Small intestine bacterial overgrowth
  • Gastritis and Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
  • Parasite infection
  • Food intolerances i.e Coeliac
  • Constipation

Getting the correct diagnosis is important. Masking the pain with pain killers and ‘off the shelf’ medications can do more harm than good in the long term.  Finding the root cause of the pain can be a long process. Go and see your doctor immediately, if it occurs too regularly or becomes too uncomfortable.