When to Go to the ER for Abdominal Pain

Do you feel constant, dull aches in your abdomen? Do you sometimes experience sudden, stabbing pains? What about cramping unrelated to your menstrual cycle?

Abdominal pain — or any discomfort that occurs between the ribs and pelvis — can come in many forms. Sometimes it can even feel like your mid- to lower-back is in pain when it’s actually your abdomen. 

But when you experience these discomforts, it can be difficult to know when to go to the ER for abdominal pain.

Acute vs. Chronic Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain may be acute (felt in one small area) or generalized, meaning the issue occurs throughout most of the abdomen including your stomach, small and large intestines, appendix, gallbladder, pancreas, liver, esophagus, and numerous blood vessels. 

This pain might also be brief or temporary or it can be chronic, which means it lasts for three months or longer. Chronic abdominal pain alludes to an ongoing problem, such as irritable bowel syndrome, that requires medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes surgery to treat the issue.

Possible Causes of Abdominal Pain

While abdominal pain can occur from stress or indigestion, it can also allude to a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, conditions, and disorders. 

Some possible issues you might be experiencing include:

  • Digestive issues (i.e., constipation, gas, indigestion)
  • Infection
  • Appendicitis
  • Food poisoning or food allergies
  • Gallstones
  • Diverticulitis
  • Inflammation
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Cancer
  • Hernia
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Kidney stones
  • Stomach flu (gastroenteritis)
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Side effects from a medication
  • Endometriosis
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
  • Heart attack
  • Pneumonia

Interested in learning more about possible digestive issues and how to improve your gut health? Check out our blog, 11 Tips for Improving Your Digestive Health.

When to Go to the ER for Abdominal Pain

You’ve most likely experienced mild, brief stomach pain from eating rich food (i.e., indigestion), but if your abdominal pain lasts for a longer period of time, it’s critical to get it looked at by a medical professional as soon as possible to begin ruling out potential causes and obtain an accurate diagnosis.

Another significant cause for concern is if your abdominal pain is accompanied by fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. 

If your abdominal pain is severe (whether acute, chronic, generalized, or localized) or if it is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, visit your nearest ER Near Me for no wait, concierge care to accurately evaluate, diagnose, and treat your condition:

  • Nausea, fever, or the inability to keep food down for several days
  • Vomiting blood
  • The pain occurs during pregnancy
  • Bloody stools
  • Difficulty breathing
  • The abdomen is tender to the touch
  • Pain lasts for several days
  • Pain is the result of an injury to the abdomen

These symptoms may be an indication of an infection, internal inflammation, or bleeding that requires immediate medical treatment.

Diagnosing Your Abdominal Pain

The difficulty with abdominal pain is that it is a subjective symptom that can’t be measured by healthcare professionals; the intensity of the pain you feel is what you say it is. For healthcare professionals to accurately diagnose your condition, they will need to know as much information as possible about your health history, eating and drinking habits, and current or past medications. It also may require a variety of diagnostic tests to begin ruling out other conditions.

Below are a few questions you should be prepared to answer when prompted by your healthcare provider:

  • Is the pain localized within a specific area or present all throughout your abdomen?
  • What makes the pain more or less intense?
  • Does the pain change when you switch positions?
  • Does food impact or change the pain?
  • Does the pain migrate to another part of the body?
  • Does the pain awaken you from sleep?

Answering these questions as honestly as possible can offer important diagnostic clues to your doctor.

From there, diagnostic testing is required to accurately diagnose and treat abdominal pain. Typically, a blood test, urine test, and radiology (generally a CT scan) are all required. Fortunately, all of these tests can be completed at your local ER Near Me. The medical team at ER Near Me can help diagnose the pain for a possible emergency issue or refer you to a specialist for continued care, if needed.

The convenience of on-site radiology at each ER Near Me location ensures you receive comprehensive concierge care to prevent additional health complications or injury. At ER Near Me, we offer the latest technologies in imaging tests to diagnose a wide variety of conditions. On-site radiology services include X-rays, CT Scan, and Ultrasound. Find out more about available radiology services by calling the location nearest you.

Looking for a quick print-out of the signs and symptoms that may lead to abdominal pain? Download our free fact sheet, Potential Causes of Abdominal Pain.

ER Near Me October Offer - Fact Sheet Abdominal Pain