Symptoms of Minor Athletic Illnesses: Abdominal Pain
While most people do not understand the anatomy of their digestive systems, almost everyone has experience abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea at some time. In evaluating what seem to be digestive symptoms, your doctor must suspect diseases of other systems as well. For example, sometimes a heart attack may cause symptoms identical to heartburn or indigestion. Similary, a brain tumor can cause symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Because of these confusing patterns, it is especially important that you give your doctor a careful medical history when you describe any of these symptoms so that the real cause of the problem can be discovered.
If you have frequent, repeated, or lasting severe abdominal pain , you should see a physician. Try to describe the onset of the pain. If it came on suddenly over several minutes, it is likely due to a perforated ulcer or a blockage in the blood supply to your intestine. If your paint came on gradually over several hours, a diagnosis of appendicitis, gallstones, or even a pelvic infection are possibilities. The character of your abdominal pain is also a clue to the underlying cause. Colic or spasm of a portion of your intestine is the most common cause of abdominal pain. This type of pain is usually caused by a block-age somewhere in your intestinal tract, which stretches the intestine behind the blockage. A burning or aching type of pain is more characteristic of an ulcer.
The location of your abdominal pain is likewise very important in helping to determine its cause. Pain caused by appendicitis, for example, almost always settles in your right lower abdomen. Usually is wide-spread. Remember, when you complain of abdominal pain, your stomach is not always where the pain realy begins. Other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, when associated with abdominal pain, may give your doctor further clues to your diagnosis. Although nausea and vomiting are usually not symptoms of serious illness, they should not be taken lightly. The first sign of pregnancy will often be nausea and vomiting known as “morning sickness”.
Diarrhea is also a symptom that is usually not serious. The most common cause is probably a viral infection in your colon. However, the cause may be bacterial. Although your colon normally contains a heavy growth of bacteria, a shift in the type, as occurs in “traveler’s diarrhea “ or following the use of antibiotics, can sometimes cause severe diarrhea.
If your diarrhea persists or is associated with severe cramps, bloody stools, or fever and chills, get prompt medical attention. Your physician’s first questions will almost always be “Have you traveled recently?”
If your symptoms are persistent and are associated with weight loss, your doctor will look for more serious causes. Be prepared to discuss your diet, the character of your stool, the amount of your weight loss, any medications you are taking , or any other medical problems that you have. It is important to realize that any change in your bowel habits may be a very important symptom of a serious underlying condition.
Treat any of these symptoms yourself only when they are mild and of short duration. Generally, home treatment consists of avoiding any offending substance that you suspect has caused your nausea, vomiting, cramps, or diarrhea. Stay on a clear liquid diet until your symptoms go away in a day or two. Your doctor will want to know haw long you have had this symptom and how often you vomit and many doctors will want to see a sample and possibly test it for blood or others substanceds. Your doctor’s treatment of more severe or prolonged symptoms will depend on diagnosis of the underlying cause.
Many very sophisticated diagnostic tools are now available that actually permit a specialist to look directly at large portions of your digestive system and diagnose any abnormalities. In additions to direct observation, your doctor will have many other laboratory and X-ray studies available if they are deemed necessary to find the cause of the symptoms.
Cause for Concern
Any persistent abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea can be a clue to a serious medical problem. These symptoms may not only suggest a problem with your digestive system, but they can also be a clue to other conditions as well. Remember that whenever any of these symptoms are associated with intestinal bleeding, fever, chills, weight loss, or severe abdominal pain, you should seek medical evaluation as soon as possible.
Orthopedic Corner | Leon Mead MD Orthopedic Doctor | 730 Goodlette Road North, Suite 201 Naples Florida 34102 | Phone: (239) 262-1119