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Abdominal Pain: Symptoms, Causes, and When to Call a Doctor

Almost everyone feels abdominal pain at some point, and most of the time it’s not serious.

However, while this is generally a good thing, it may also make it difficult to determine when it’s time to see a doctor for your abdominal pain. This is because your pain level does not always reflect the seriousness of the condition causing it. In this blog post, your trusted provider of Urgent Care of the Palm Beaches shares the basics of abdominal pain that you need to be aware of.

What are the Types of Abdominal Pain?

Many major organs are situated in the abdomen: the small and large intestines, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, appendix, spleen, and kidneys. Often, an inflammation or disease of any of these organs causes abdominal pain. 

When you come in for urgent care due to abdominal pain, one of the first things the medical team will try to find out is the type of pain you are experiencing. By finding this out, they may then determine the possible cause of the pain. This also gives them a starting point for tests and treatments. The most common types of abdominal pain can be described in the following ways: 

  • Generalized abdominal pain means that it affects most of your stomach area. This type of pain is more common for viral gastroenteritis, gas or indigestion. More severe generalized abdominal pain might be caused by a serious condition, such as a blockage of the intestines. 

  • Localized abdominal pain means that the pain is focused in one part of the stomach area. This type of abdominal pain can sometimes be a sign of a problem with an organ, such as the appendix, gallbladder, or stomach. 

  • Cramps can cause severe abdominal pain but most of the time they are not a serious problem. Cramps are often accompanied by diarrhea, gas and bloating. 

  • Colicky abdominal pain comes and goes in waves. This type of abdominal pain can start and end suddenly, and it can often feel sharp and severe. Often, this type of pain can be caused by kidney stones or gallstones. 

What are the Possible Causes of Abdominal Pain?

There are a number of conditions that can cause abdominal pain. However, the main causes are:

  • Inflammation

  • Infection

  • Obstruction or blockage

  • Abnormal growths, such as tumors and ulcers

  • Intestinal disorders

Furthermore, a physician will also determine whether your symptoms are caused by infections in the blood, intestines, or throat. These infections can cause bacteria to move into your digestive tract, causing abdominal pain as well as other symptoms, such as diarrhea or constipation.

In general, the less serious and most common causes of abdominal pain and discomfort are the following:

  • Diarrhea

  • Constipation

  • Vomiting

  • Food allergies

  • Acid reflux

  • Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)

  • Stress

Meanwhile, diseases that largely cause chronic abdominal pain include:

On the other hand, the conditions that typically cause severe acute abdominal pain are:

  • Organ rupture, a common example of which is a burst appendix

  • Gallbladder stones and inflammation

  • Kidney stones and/or infection

Is Stomach Pain a Sign of COVID?

Fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath are some of the hallmark symptoms of COVID-19. However, a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology suggested that abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting may also be early indicators of COVID-19. 

It’s important to keep in mind that if you experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or a combination of any of those symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have COVID-19. However, it’s wise to pay extra attention to your health and such symptoms at this time. For your peace of mind and safety, it’s best to undergo COVID-19 testing in Palm Beach.

A Reminder: The Level of Abdominal Pain Doesn’t Always Determine the Condition

Many different conditions can cause abdominal pain or stomach aches. What’s tricky about this symptom is that its severity does not always determine the severity of the underlying cause. 

For instance, you might feel severe abdominal pain and cramps due to stomach flu, food poisoning, or even gas, which are all easily treatable especially when attended to immediately. These conditions may even resolve themselves given enough time. 

On the other hand, there are more serious and life-threatening conditions, such as appendicitis, that may only cause mild to moderate abdominal discomfort. In some cases, these conditions do not cause any pain at all at their early stages and will only manifest themselves when they’ve already progressed.

Additionally, people describe abdominal pain in different ways. Sometimes, abdominal pain occurs at certain times, such as after meals or at night. All of these details about your abdominal pain provide doctors and medical professionals with important clues about the cause of your abdominal pain.

When to get prompt medical attention?

The key is to know when you need to get immediate medical care, such as at an urgent care center or a hospital emergency room. Sometimes you may only need to call an urgent care center about abdominal pain if the pain is not extreme. 

A nurse or doctor can tell you more about what steps to take next, including home care, such as sipping water and other clear fluids. Seek medical attention for abdominal pain that occurs often, lasts more than 24 hours or is accompanied by a fever.

Need Urgent Care in Palm Beach and the Surrounding Areas?

If you or your loved one is experiencing abdominal pain and other symptoms that are causing you worry, discomfort, or inexplicable pain, it’s best that you seek immediate medical care. Urgent Care of the Palm Beaches provides excellent healthcare without the wait, serving you at one of our three convenient locations:

We also offer COVID-19 testing, including rapid COVID testing, to help rule out COVID-19 or determine whether your symptoms may be due to it. 

For more information about our medical services, contact us. You may also schedule an appointment online.


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.


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