In most cases, abdominal cramps are not a serious cause for concern. However, if you experience severe lower abdominal pain, seek medical attention immediately or go to an emergency room. Early intervention can help prevent or avoid complications.
What conditions can cause lower abdominal pain?
Appendicitis is a severe condition that occurs when the appendix gets infected and inflamed and requires urgent medical care to prevent organ rupture. Appendicitis can occur at any age, but most cases occur between the ages of 10 and 30 years.
- Severe and occurs suddenly near the navel and then moves to the lower right abdomen
- Gets worse over time
- Relieved with pressure application and returns when pressure is released
- Worsens when you move, breathe deeply, cough, or sneeze.
Other appendicitis symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal swelling
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Not being able to expel gas
A ruptured appendix spreads infection throughout your abdomen (peritonitis). This condition necessitates immediate removal of the appendix and cleaning of your abdominal cavity. If left untreated, sepsis can develop, which is life-threatening.
The associated pain may be intermittent or continuous. Other symptoms include:
Common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:
Diverticulosis is common and does not present with symptoms or require treatment. However, the bulging may result in stomach bloating, cramps, and constipation. Left-sided abdominal pain is the most typical symptom of this kind of inflammation or infection.
Diverticulitis can cause the following symptoms:
Gastroenteritis is a common condition that causes vomiting and diarrhea and is typically caused by a bacterial or viral infection. It affects people of all ages but is most common in young children.
Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis include the following:
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Watery diarrhea
- Nausea or vomiting
Although gastroenteritis is usually not serious, it is still important to consume enough fluids to avoid dehydration.
Acute urinary retention
Acute urinary retention causes a sudden inability to urinate. If you suddenly cannot pass urine, you may experience considerable pain, which can radiate to your abdomen.
Emergency room treatment is necessary for acute urine retention.
Cystitis or inflammation of the bladder is more common in women than in men. It is typically caused by bacteria but can be due to other causes.
Symptoms of cystitis include:
- Cramps in the lower-middle abdomen
- Back pain
- Low-grade fever
- Cloudy urine
- Blood in the urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- Burning or painful urination
- Frequent desire to urinate, even after you have already urinated
Although back pain is likely, you may experience discomfort in the groin, around the abdomen, and under the ribs. Pain from kidney infections is often very severe.
Common symptoms of a kidney infection include:
- Pain when urinating
- Frequent urge to urinate
- High fever with chills
- Blood in the urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- Burning pain when urinating
Larger kidney stones may require treatment, but smaller ones may pass on their own. They can result in urinary tract infections, which can cause sharp lower abdominal pain and painful urination.
Constipation can occur if you do not eat enough fiber or suddenly change your eating habits.
Symptoms of constipation include:
- Lower abdominal pain
- Hard, dry stools
- No bowel movements for days
Swallowing too much air, consuming high-fat foods, and stress can cause abdominal bloating and pain.
Stomach and intestinal-related conditions that can cause lower abdominal pain include
- Food intolerance, such as gluten or lactose
Ingredients that can cause gas include:
- Soluble fiber in beans
- Insoluble fiber in vegetables
- Fructose in onions or bananas
- Raffinose in cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables
- Starch in potatoes and noodles
- Lactose in dairy products
Pain can be felt where the gas is trapped. Right-sided abdominal pain may feel like appendicitis, whereas left-sided abdominal pain may feel like heart-related pain.
During the menstrual cycle, uterine contractions can cause cramping in the lower abdomen. In addition to lower abdominal pain, you may experience lower back pain.
Menstrual cramps may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
Sometimes people confuse lower abdominal pain with pelvic pain, which may be caused by:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Ruptured ovarian cyst
- Leiomyomas (fibroids)
- Ovarian torsion
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Ovarian hyperstimulation
- Ovarian cancer
Lower abdominal pain during pregnancy could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when an embryo develops and implants outside of the uterus. Ectopic pregnancy can cause severe pain in the lower abdomen or one side of the body.
The more common cause of lower abdominal pain in pregnant women is constipation.
When to consult a doctor about lower abdominal pain
Lower abdominal pain can occasionally be a symptom of a serious condition that needs to be evaluated immediately. Seek emergency medical care if the following symptoms occur:
- Sudden, severe abdominal or pelvic pain
- Abdominal injuries
- Vomiting blood
- Rectal bleeding
- Bloody stools
- Bleeding during pregnancy
- Changes in awareness or alertness, including fainting or becoming unresponsive
- High fever (temperature more than 101 F)
- Lack of bowel movements, especially when vomiting is present
- Rapid heart rate
- Abdominal stiffness
How is lower abdominal pain diagnosed?
Contact a doctor if your abdominal pain does not appear to be related to indigestion, is getting worse, or does not go away.
Your doctor will probably conduct a physical examination and inquire in-depth about your symptoms. If you experience lower abdomen pain, they may perform a rectal or gynecological exam. Additionally, they may order tests to rule out other potential causes of your abdominal pain.
The following tests may be ordered:
What is the treatment for lower abdominal pain?
If your pain is severe, treatment may involve one or more of the following:
- Painkillers to provide temporary relief
- Intravenous fluids to make up for the fluid loss
- Anti-nausea medications to stop vomiting
- Fasting (your doctor may advise fasting until the cause of your pain is identified)
If your pain is mild, you can try several home remedies to relieve the discomfort:
Stomach Cramps: Causes and Treatments https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/stomach-cramps
Abdominal pain https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/symptoms/abdominal-pain
Abdominal pain https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/abdominal-pain/basics/causes/sym-20050728
Abdominal Pain https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK412/
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