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Acute Abdominal Pain

Acute Abdominal Pain

Acute abdominal pain develops suddenly and typically subsides within 48 hours, often without further complications. The pain can range from mild to severe, and it can occur as the result of numerous conditions affecting the organs located between the lower part of the ribcage and the pelvic bone. In some cases, it may also originate in organs located outside of the abdominal cavity. It usually is not a major cause for concern, but it may be a sign of a more severe underlying condition.

The Cause

The potential causes for acute abdominal pain are numerous. Some of the most common include injuries, constipation, indigestion, and menstrual pain. Other reasons include abscess, bowel blockage rupture of the spleen or esophagus, peptic ulcer, blood or blood vessel diseases, inflammation of the organs in the abdominal region, or swelling or stones in the gallbladder or kidney. In women, acute abdominal pain may be caused by diseases of the ovaries or fallopian tubes or ectopic pregnancy.

When to See a Doctor

The severity of an underlying cause of acute abdominal pain. In many cases, it subsides on its own without significant complications. In other situations, however, prompt medical attention is needed. When severe underlying conditions are present, pain is often accompanied by other symptoms such as anal or vaginal bleeding, changes in bowel movements, changes in appetite, nausea, yellowing of the skin, fever, or sweating. When these additional symptoms are present, it is essential to see prompt medical treatment to avoid potential complications.

When determining the cause of acute stomach pain, medical professionals may perform many tests. In mild cases, the reason may be determined during a simple physical examination and based upon the patient's symptoms and medical history. In other cases, additional tests are required. Standard tests include ultrasounds, urinalysis, or endoscopic procedures. Blood tests may also be performed as a means of detecting certain problems.


The treatment for acute abdominal pain varies depending upon the cause. Mild cases may be treated using home remedies and over-the-counter medications while severe cases may require medical intervention. Some underlying problems may be treatable with medicines while underlying harsh conditions may need to be corrected surgically. Most acute stomach pain cases are not critical in nature, and they do not cause long-term problems. When pain is severe or does not go away on its own, it is important to seek prompt medical attention to avoid potential complications. Many causes of acute abdominal pain can be corrected when detected early.