Pain in the tummy is frequently experienced by many of us. Beyond the acute, temporary discomfort that we all have experienced, there are several forms of tummy pain that can be a sign of serious health issue and should not be ignored. Tummy pain can range from minor discomfort to excruciating life threatening conditions.
Though it can be pretty tricky to figure out if the tummy pain that you are having, is the type that will resolve on its own or a doctor should be consulted without delay, the following types of tummy pain, however, should not be brushed aside.
Pain that is not going away: Any tummy discomfort, however trivial it may be, if it is persistent which lasts even three months or longer, should be consulted with a doctor. This sort of discomfort includes symptoms like ongoing diarrhoea, constipation, pain after eating, feeling full after just a few bites of food and bloating. It is important to see a gastrointestinal (GI) surgeon to rule out anything serious like inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease or primary stage of cancer.
Pain accompanied by vomitting: Tummy discomfort that comes along with nausea and vomitting can happen for a number of reasons like gall bladder stones, appendicitis, bowel obstruction, GI infection or inflammation. It is important to see a GI surgeon if the abdominal pain comes with nausea, vomitting and fever or if the pain is unfamiliar, getting worse or is not going away.
Pain with blood in the stool: It is important to keep in mind that blood in the stool won’t always be red; it can also be black and tar-like, which is often indicative of bleeding from somewhere higher up in the digestive tract, such as the stomach. GI bleeding can come from a number of sources including colitis, diverticulosis, haemorrhoids, bleeding gastric ulcer and GI cancer.
Pain that is intense and sudden: Experiencing strong and severe tummy pain indicates something probably is not right. Specific and localised pain that involves a sharp shooting sensation which takes breath away, or cause you to double over or hold the area, and happens in waves, could be from bile duct blockage by gallstones, appendicitis, ulcer or pancreatitis.
Often this will be the type of pain that keeps on worsening, comes suddenly or does not go away. It is important not to delay getting help when sharp pain is involved.
Pain with unexplained weight loss: Unexpected or unintentional weight loss with abdominal pain is always concerning and must be evaluated; this could be a sign of a risk for GI cancer, chronic pancreatitis, Crohn’s disease or other illnesses.
All being said and done, we know our body better than anyone else. If something wrong is felt with the tummy, whether it is serious or not, it is always best not to delay seeing a GI surgeon.
The writer is a Consultant of General, Laparoscopic and OncoSurgery working at United Hospital Limited, Dhaka. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org