What is it?
Abdominal pain Syndrome is a common occurrence seen in children as well as adults. The abdomen consists of various organs such as stomach, intestine, colon, liver, and pancreas.
Abdominal pain is more commonly known as stomachache, gut ache etc. It can be a symptom for various diseases and it can be severe or mild. If abdominal pain is associated with other symptoms such as fever, bloody stools, nausea, vomiting, swelling of the abdomen, yellowish color of the skin it is required to get immediate medical help.
Abdominal pain is caused by a variety of conditions, some of which are mild such as gas pain, indigestion or muscle pain. Abdominal pain ranges from minor condition to major ones, which need immediate medical help. These conditions include,
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm
- Bile duct inflammation
- Bladder inflammation
- Inflammation in the starting of the small intestine
- Hardened stool
- Heart attack
- Intestinal obstruction
- Kidney infection
- Kidney stones
- Liver abscess
- Decreased blood flow to the intestines
- Inflammation of the tissue around the heart
- Infection of the abdominal lining
- Inflammation of the membrane surrounding the lungs
- Ruptured spleen
- Sclerosing mesenteritis
- Spleen infection
- Splenic abscess
- Torn colon
- Urinary tract infection
- Stomach flu
- Reduced blood flow to the heart
- Celiac disease
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Ovarian cysts
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Peptic ulcer
- Sickle cell anemia
- Strained or a pulled abdominal muscle
The doctor considers different diagnostic methods to test for abdominal pain, that includes,
- Physical examination: determine signs of inflammation, obstruction of the intestine using sound, the presence of mass such as tumors and the presence of blood in the stool.
- Laboratory tests such as blood test, urine test, enzyme test etc to evaluate the blood count, raised enzyme count which determines specific diseases such as appendicitis, pancreatitis due to increase in white blood cells, increase in liver enzyme caused by gallstones or hepatitis, blood in urine suggests kidney stones.
- X-ray of the abdomen shows if there is an intestinal obstruction, calcified kidney stones etc.
- Ultrasound helps to diagnose gallstones, appendicitis or ruptured ovarian cysts.
- CT scan helps detect diseases such as abscesses, pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, appendicitis and if there is an obstruction in the arteries blocking blood flow.
- MRI also helps to detect certain diseases in the abdomen.
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) is an upper GI endoscopy performed to detect ulcers, inflammation of the stomach and stomach cancer.
- Colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure where a tube with a camera at one end is inserted through the rectum into the large intestine to test for infectious colitis, ulcer in the colon and colon cancer
- Endoscopic Ultrasound helps detect pancreatic cancer, gallstones etc. This procedure is done if a standard ultrasound does not detect these conditions.
- In some cases, surgery or laparoscopy is performed to further examine the abdominal cavity.
As abdominal pain syndrome can have lots of causes, the doctor usually starts the treatment only after confirming the disease or condition that is causing it.