Stomach aches are a common symptom experienced by adults and children alike. Most stomach aches are caused by non-serious causes, including indigestion, food intolerance, gas pain or stress. However, in some cases, stomach aches can be a sign that something is seriously wrong.
Here are seven signs your stomachache may be serious and require immediate medical attention.
1) It’s Sudden and Severe.
A stomachache that happens gradually and causes mild discomfort is typically benign. But abdominal pain that is sudden and severe can indicate that something is seriously wrong, including appendicitis, gallstones, a perforated intestine, or, in rare cases, a rupturing abdominal aortic aneurysm.
2) You Also Have a Fever.
Abdominal pain with a fever is often an indication of an infection, including appendicitis, diverticulitis (an infection in the large intestine), cholecystitis (an infection in the gallbladder) or pyelonephritis (an infection in the kidneys). If you have abdominal pain with a fever, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention to rule out these serious medical conditions.
3) You Are (or Might Be) Pregnant.
In early pregnancy, abdominal pain can indicate an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo implants in the Fallopian tube instead of in the uterus. In later stages of pregnancy, abdominal pain can indicate early labor. Either way, if you are (or think you might be) pregnant, it’s important to seek immediate medical care if you’re experiencing any pain.
4) You Have Vomiting and/or Diarrhea.
Vomiting and diarrhea can indicate a foodborne illness or other potentially serious causes of abdominal pain. Uncontrolled vomiting and diarrhea can also lead to dehydration. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to seek prompt medical attention.
5) The Pain is Localized.
If you can point to where you have pain, it’s more likely to be a serious abdominal issue than if you’re experiencing a generalized stomachache. If you have significant abdominal pain in a localized area, it’s important to be evaluated to rule out potentially serious causes of your symptoms.
6) You Can’t Find a Comfortable Position.
Abdominal pain that’s so significant you can’t lie down, sit up, stand or walk without causing more discomfort can indicate a serious problem. If you’re experiencing abdominal pain and can’t find a comfortable position, seek immediate medical care.
7) You Are Dizzy or Short of Breath.
Abdominal pain accompanied by other symptoms, including dizziness or shortness of breath, can indicate that there’s a more serious underlying problem. If you’re experiencing abdominal pain accompanied by these symptoms, it’s a sign that you need to receive urgent medical attention.
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