Abdominal Pain

Written by: SphynxCatVP
Link to original: http://sphynxcatvp.nocturna.org/health/sc-abdominpain.html

Abdominal pain can be acute and sudden in onset (parasitic infection, food poisoning, etc.), or the pain can be chronic and long-standing (ulcers, irritable bowel, etc.). Abdominal pain may be minor and of no great significance (lactose intolerance, minor food allergies, etc.), or it can reflect a major problem involving one of the organs in the abdomen (pancreatitis, ecoptic pregnancy, etc.) or a more generalized, but still serious, problem (porphyria, protein deficiency, etc.) The characteristics of the pain - location, timing, duration, etc. are important in diagnosing its cause. Persistent or recurring abdominal pain should ALWAYS be evaluated by a medical professional.

This article makes the assumption that the reader is otherwise fairly healthy, and will give a general overview of the various potential causes of new or recent abdominal pain.

What is abdominal pain?

What most people think of as abdominal pain is usually the area below the ribcage. While this may indicate a source IN that area, sometimes the source pain is coming from organs located elsewhere, even though it's felt in the abdominal area - in that type of situation, it's called "referred pain". When it's "referred", it could be coming from the lungs, the kidneys, the uterus or ovaries (for females, especially of childbearing years), pancreas, or even a few other organs as well. Sometimes systemic problems are felt first in the abdominal area, especially if they're due to a digestive complaint such as Celiac Syndrome or Divirticulitis.

What causes abdominal pain?

Frequent and/or usually self-limiting causes

Psychosomatic causes (due to stress) may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear

Uncommon and/or potentially dangerous causes may include:

  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
  • Abdominal Angina (Mesenteric Vascular / Ischemia)
  • Abdominal Sepsis (severe infection; a risk of colitis flare-ups)
  • Acute Intermittent Porphyria
  • Appendicitis
  • Bacterial causes (Cholera, Dysentery, etc.)
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Cancer (especially stomach or colon cancer)
  • Candida / yeast infection
  • Celiac Syndrome
  • Chron's Disease
  • Constipation / bowel obstruction
  • Divirticulitis
  • Endometriosis
  • Gallbladder disease (Cholelithiasis)
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Hernia
  • Iron Overload / Toxicity
  • Irritable Bowel / Colitis
  • Kidney stones
  • Liver problems
  • Lung (pulmonary) problems (sometimes is referred pain)
  • Myocardial Infarction (a/k/a heart attack)
  • Ovarian Cyst or cancer
  • Pancreatitis, especially acute pancreatitis
  • Parasitic - Giardia for example
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Pericarditis (inflammation around the heart)
  • Peritonitis / Abdominal Abscess/Sepsis
  • Porphyria
  • Protein Deficiency
  • Shingles
  • Spleen issues
  • Stomach/colon cancer
  • Toxic Megacolon (very advanced colon infection; colitis risk)
  • Ulcer (peptic, colon, stomach, etc.)
  • Women: ecoptic pregnancy

How is it diagnosed?

Doctors and other involved medical staff will need to know the recent medical history, and any chronic history, pertaining to the abdominal pain. Giving them as much information as you can pertaining to the pain will enable them to be more accurate in their diagnosis. Even with all that, diagnosis is often a challenge–above and beyond getting an inattentive doctor–for a variety of reasons: The pain may not be typical for the cause (may have more or less pain than expected, different type of pain than expected, etc.), diseases that cause pain may have overlapping symptoms with other diseases, and what the pain feels like may change as time goes on.

Medical history information should include the following:

  • When it started
  • How long it's been going on
  • Whether it's a sudden or gradual onset
  • Location, type (stabbing, aching, waves, constant, etc.), and severity of pain
  • Where the pain radiates to (e.g., to back, groin, shoulder)
  • Aggravating or precipitating factors (e.g., food, position, medication)
  • Relieving factors (i.e., lack of movement, more comfortable positions, etc.)
  • Prior similar episodes
  • Ability - or inability - to pass stool or gas
  • Any associated symptoms (bloating, etc.)
  • Fever, chills, or sweating
  • Urinary symptoms (too much, not enough, urgency, etc.)
  • Lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Blood in the stool
  • Whether there's any chest pain, and how it's felt
  • Any surgical history
  • NSAID use (can cause ulcers and internal bleeding, which can lead to pain)

And also should include mention of any coexisting known diseases such as:

  • Diabetes (patients become more prone to developing other related ailments)
  • Cardiovascular disease (hypertension, coronary artery disease, blood clots, etc.)
  • Any previous abdominal injury
  • Any history of abdominal problems
  • Smoking history, if any
  • Alcohol use

Physical exams and diagnostics will likely include:

  • Checking blood pressure (a drastically low blood pressure can narrow down the causes, for example)
  • Checking oxygen saturation (how well you're getting oxygen)
  • General bloodwork (blood count, chemistry panel)
  • Xrays, CT scan and/or MRI depending on your symptoms
  • Colonoscopy if a bowel obstruction or other GI complaint is suspected

How is it treated?

As usual, treatment will depend on the cause. Some causes (like the "frequent" list above) are typically self-limiting and don't require much more than symptomatic care. Other causes may need more diagnostics (to determine the problem), followed by extensive care or even surgery.

Any extremely severe, acute and/or sudden onset abdominal pain ABSOLUTELY warrants a trip to your local hospital emergency room to rule out critical conditions such as appendicitis (which can be confused with food poisoning symptoms).

See the links below for more details.

What does this have to do with real vampires?

Abdominal pain is NOT a normal "sign" of real vampirism, but it's common to see it mentioned in forums and e-mail lists. Everyone should be aware that ANY abdominal pain is not normal, and should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Credits/References