When to Start Worrying About Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain and the ER

Have you ever experienced a sudden, sharp abdominal pain? Has it been so intense that you had to sit down or lay down? Abdominal pain can be a sudden onset condition, or it can come and go for weeks or months. Many people wonder when they should worry about their abdominal pain and have a physician look at them.

When should I go to the ER with my abdominal pain?

“While no pain should be disregarded, there are a few guidelines to go by when determining when you need to go to Advance ER to have a board-certified physician examine you for abdominal pain,” said Advance ER physician, Dr. Thomas Vo. “If the pain is severe, sudden, or interrupts your life, you need to come right to Advance ER. If you are pregnant, if you have just finished eating, if your pain started out as all over but then settled into one place—these are all reasons to come to the ER and get checked out. If you’ve been suffering for several hours and it isn’t going away, come in.”

In addition, pain accompanied by any of the following should be checked out right away by a physician:

  • Bleeding when pregnant
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Blood in stool
  • Dark colored or pink tinge to urine
  • Inability to urinate, have a bowel movement or pass gas
  • Pain in other areas such as the neck, shoulder or arm

What questions will my doctor ask about my abdominal pain?

“Diagnosing abdominal pain can be very difficult since there are so many things that could be causing it. So you need to be prepared to work with the doctor in answering many questions,” said Dr. Vo.

Your physician may ask some of these questions:

  • Where, exactly, is the pain located?
  • Has it moved locations?
  • Is it constant or intermittent?
  • How long has this been going on?
  • Describe it—is it a dull ache, a sharp pain, a throbbing pain, a stabbing pain, radiating down legs, etc.?
  • Does anything make it feel better?
  • Does it hurt to breathe, cough, sneeze?
  • Is there blood in the stool or discolored urine or vomiting?
  • Does the pain make you want to stay still or move?
  • Have you been sick?
  • Have you been traveling out of the country?
  • Medical history—any medical conditions? Past surgeries? Medications?

Your physician will also check to see if you have a fever. He or she will do a physical exam to pinpoint the location of the pain, to listen for sounds in the abdomen, and to look for any inflammation or other important signs.

What tests might be needed to diagnose abdominal pain?

Your physician may order additional tests before determining your diagnosis. Tests could range from ultrasound to a blood or urine test. Our modern facility is equipped with many different kinds of testing equipment, such as an ultrasound and X-ray, and our rapid results lab is always open.

What kinds of things cause abdominal pain?

Abdominal pain can be caused by a myriad of things. Some of them are extremely hard to discover, others are more obvious by their symptoms. Here is a list of some of the things that can cause discomfort:

  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Appendicitis
  • Gallstones blocking bile duct
  • Hepatitis – swelling liver
  • Ulcers
  • Diverticulitis
  • Cholecystitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney infection
  • Bladder infection
  • Hernia
  • Food poisoning
  • Cancer
  • Gynecological conditions
  • Cysts
  • Abscesses

What treatments are used for abdominal pain?

“Your treatment will, of course, depend on what is wrong,” said Dr. Vo. “If it is something like appendicitis, a cyst or a hernia, then surgery will likely be needed. If it is a condition such as diverticulitis or ulcers, we could be able to manage it with medications and lifestyle changes. Infections can be treated with medications. Food poisoning may not need any intervention, except perhaps IVs if dehydrated. It really just depends on what we’re dealing with.”

Your physician at Advance ER will take the time to explain your diagnosis to you and the treatment options. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them so you can fully understand the diagnosis and treatment.

At Advance ER, our physicians and professionals are committed to bringing you the best in medical care services. You can come to one of our two convenient locations, Park Cities or Galleria Area, any time, day or night for help with your abdominal pain.

Advance ER…the right care in the right place at the right time.

 

Meet Dr. Vo:

Thomas Vo, M.D., FAAEM, is board-certified in emergency medicine. He received his medical degree from Northeastern Ohio University’s College of Medicine in Rootstown, OH. He completed his residency at William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oaks, MI. He has served in hospital ERs across Texas.

Dr. Vo enjoys participating in physical activities, playing guitar and spending time with his wife and four children.

The Advance ER Physician Staff