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Acute Abdominal Pain

AMBULATORY CARE:

Acute abdominal pain

usually starts suddenly and gets worse quickly.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You vomit blood or cannot stop vomiting.
  • You have blood in your bowel movement or it looks like tar.
  • You have bleeding from your rectum.
  • Your abdomen is larger than usual, more painful, and hard.
  • You have severe pain in your abdomen.
  • You stop passing gas and having bowel movements.
  • You feel weak, dizzy, or faint.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have new signs and symptoms.
  • Your symptoms do not get better with treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for acute abdominal pain

may depend on the cause of your abdominal pain. You may need any of the following:

  • Medicines may be given to decrease pain, treat an infection, and manage your symptoms, such as constipation.
  • Surgery may be needed to treat a serious cause of abdominal pain. Examples include surgery to treat appendicitis or a blockage in your bowels.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Apply heat on your abdomen for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
  • Manage your stress. Stress may cause abdominal pain. Your healthcare provider may recommend relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises to help decrease your stress. Your healthcare provider may recommend you talk to someone about your stress or anxiety, such as a counselor or a trusted friend. Get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can make your abdominal pain worse. Ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to drink alcohol. Also ask how much is safe for you to drink.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes can damage your esophagus and stomach. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Make changes to the food you eat as directed:

Do not eat foods that cause abdominal pain or other symptoms. Eat small meals more often.

  • Eat more high-fiber foods if you are constipated. High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, and legumes.
  • Do not eat foods that cause gas if you have bloating. Examples include broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Do not drink soda or carbonated drinks, because these may also cause gas.
  • Do not eat foods or drinks that contain sorbitol or fructose if you have diarrhea and bloating. Some examples are fruit juices, candy, jelly, and sugar-free gum.
  • Do not eat high-fat foods, such as fried foods, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and desserts.
  • Limit or do not drink caffeine. Caffeine may make symptoms, such as heart burn or nausea, worse.
  • Drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration from diarrhea or vomiting. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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