Irritable Bowel Syndrome Glossary > Abdominal Pain
Recurring lower abdominal pain (from mild discomfort to severe spasms), in association with bowel dysfunction, is one of the chief symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Stomach bloating is often associated with IBS abdominal pain.
Abdominal pain from IBS can be treated, as can IBS bloating.
The IBS diet is a quick way to relieve and prevent abdominal pain. To date, gut-directed IBS hypnosis is the only treatment researchers have called a "cure" for the brain-gut dysfunction that underlies IBS abdominal pain.
Quick Help for Abdominal Pain
Following the IBS Diet Cheat Sheet can help IBS abdominal pain tremendously.
Abdominal pain from IBS can be prevented with Tummy Tamers peppermint oil capsules. When taken on an empty stomach before meals, the caps reduce or eliminate the intestinal spasms and cramps that cause IBS abdominal pain.
Eating for IBS.
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For immediate relief of IBS abdominal pain, high volatile oil medicinal strength Peppermint Tummy Tea acts quickly to stop intestinal spasms and pain.
The proper diet for IBS, and a pure soluble fiber supplement such as Tummy Fiber Acacia Senegal, will normalize bowel function (diarrhea AND constipation) while preventing painful spasms and cramps in the gut.
Direct heat via hot packs or other heat sources can relax the muscle spasms causing IBS pain, and give quick relief.
Abdominal Pain - What Is It?
Abdominal pain in general is defined as a nonspecific symptom that may be associated with a multitude of conditions. Some do not occur within the abdomen itself, but cause abdominal discomfort. An example would be the abdominal pain associated with strep throat. Some originate within the abdomen, but are not related to the gastrointestinal tract, such as a dissecting aortic aneurysm. Other pain is related directly to the gastrointestinal tract.
The severity of the pain does not always reflect the severity of the condition causing the pain. Severe abdominal pain can be associated with mild conditions, such as stomach gas or the cramping of viral gastroenteritis, while relatively mild pain (or no pain) may be present with severe and life-threatening conditions, such as cancer of the colon or early appendicitis.
Abdominal pain can be caused by stomach ulcers, toxins, infection, biliary tract disease, liver disease, renal disease, bladder infections, menstruation, ovulation, female and male genitourinary disease, vascular problems, malignancy, ulcers, perforation, pancreatic disease, hernias, trauma, and metabolic diseases. The list is so extensive that it would be impossible to name all the possible diseases in each of the above groups.
Because abdominal pain is nonspecific, health care providers will require much more information regarding the time of onset, duration of pain (minutes, hours, days, or even months), location of pain (lower, upper, right or left side), nature of pain (dull, sharp, steady, crampy, off and on), severity of pain, and relationship to normal functions (such as menstruation and ovulation).
The location of pain and its time pattern may be helpful in suggesting its cause and treatments. During physical examination, the health care provider will try to determine if the pain is localized to a single area (point tenderness) or diffuse, and if the pain is related to inflammation of the peritoneum or of the abdomen. If the health care provider finds evidence of peritoneal inflammation, the abdominal pain may be classified as an "acute abdomen", which often requires prompt surgical remedies.
In addition, the health care provider will try to relate the abdominal tenderness to other general symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, general ill feeling (malaise), nausea, vomiting, or changes in stool. Then, the provider will ask about increasingly specific symptoms as the diagnostic considerations are narrowed.
In infants, prolonged unexplained crying (often called "colic") may be caused by abdominal pain that often ends with the passage of stomach gas or stool. Colic is often worse in the evening. Cuddling and rocking the child may bring some relief.
Severe abdominal pain that occurs during menstruation may indicate a problem in a reproductive organ. This includes conditions, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, ovarian cancer (rare), or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Abdmonal Pain - What Causes It?
The following is a list of the most common causes of abdominal pain. It is important to note that among this list there are relatively few serious diseases.
Cholecystitis and/or gallstones
Colic in infants (infants to 4 months)
Excessive stomach gas
Food poisoning (salmonella, shigella)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Lactose intolerance (milk intolerance)
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Pneumonia (in children)
Recurrent abdominal pain (usually in children and adolescents -- a type of somatization disorder where emotional upset is reflected as physical discomfort)
Streptococcal pharyngitis (strep throat, in children this can cause abdominal pain)
Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
Common Causes of Abdominal Pain in Children
Parasite infections (Giardia)
Excess fructose or sorbitol ingestion
Sickle cell crisis
Less common, but serious causes:
Colon cancer or other abdominal cancer
Abdominal pain that may indicate a potential emergency:
Severe abdominal pain with nausea and fever may indicate appendicitis, cholecystitis (infected gall bladder), or complications of diverticulitis.
Abdominal pain, nausea, and bloating or constipation may indicate a bowel obstruction.
Abdominal pain that is accompanies by a stiff, "board like" abdomen may indicate peritonitis due to an infection spreading in the abdominal cavity or to a hole in the stomach or intestine.
Abdominal pain is accompanied by bloody stools, vomiting blood, or gastrointestinal bleeding from any cause can be dangerous.
Persistent upper abdominal pain and vomiting may indicate pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).
Abdominal pain followed by nausea/ vomiting and fever may indicate appendicitis.
Intermittent abdominal pain manifested in an infant by drawing knees to chest, with crying, could be intussusception (telescoping intestines).
Dissecting abdominal aortic aneurysm.
When to Call Your Doctor about Abdominal Pain
The pain is very severe
An abdominal injury was sustained in the last 2 or 3 days
Pain develops during pregnancy (or possible pregnancy)
The pain persists for a prolonged period of time
Pain is accompanied by fever, nausea, or an inability to keep down food or liquids for several days
Nausea, fever, and bloating or constipation accompanies the pain
The abdomen is tender to touch, or it feels rigid or hard
The patient has been vomiting blood or there are bloody stools
Diagnostic Tests That May be Performed for Abdominal Pain:
Upper GI and small bowel series
Blood, urine, and stool tests
Endoscopy of upper GI (gastrointestinal) tract (EGD)
Ultrasound of the abdomen
X-rays of the abdomen
Abdominal Pain Treatment
If you feel confident that your abdominal pain is a symptom of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, learn all you need to know about this disorder and its remedies with The First Year: IBS, an essential guide. For immediate relief from IBS abdominal pain, start making dietary changes.
Also, medicinal strength peppermint, taken as enteric coated peppermint oil capsules or as high volatile oil Peppermint Tummy Tea, can be extremely beneficial remedies for relieving and preventing IBS abdominal pain.
For bloating with abdominal pain, medicinal strength fennel tea is very helpful.
IBS Abdominal Pain & Bloating Diet Cheat Sheet
Learn Trigger Foods For IBS Pain
- Safe Foods For IBS Pain
- Soluble Vs. Insoluble Fiber
- 10 Commandments of Eating for IBS
- More for IBS Abdominal Pain!
Excerpted from Eating for IBS.
Abdominal pain information provided by the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, NIH