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Chronic Abdominal Pain

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

The cause of chronic abdominal pain may not be found. You may be given medicine to manage symptoms. You may need therapy to help manage anxiety or stress that is causing abdominal pain. Rarely, surgery is needed if there is a problem with an organ in your abdomen.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your abdominal pain gets worse, and spreads to your back.
  • You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • You have blood or mucus in your bowel movement.
  • You cannot stop vomiting.
  • You have diarrhea for more than 1 week.
  • You feel weak, dizzy, or faint.
  • Your abdomen is larger than usual, more painful, and hard.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You have new symptoms.
  • You lose weight without trying.
  • Your pain prevents you from doing your daily activities.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Medicines:

  • Medicines may be given to decrease pain and manage your symptoms. Medicines may also be given to manage anxiety.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Self-care:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Keep a diary of your abdominal pain. A diary may help your healthcare provider learn what is causing your abdominal pain. Include when the pain happens, how long it lasts, and what the pain feels like. Write down any other symptoms you have with abdominal pain. Also write down what you eat, and what symptoms you have after you eat.
  • 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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need more tests. 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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