Stomach Pain: When to Visit a Gastroenterolgy Specialst
Stomach pain is something that everyone experiences from time to time. It can be caused by poor diet habits, high stress, and other environmental factors. Luckily, while stomach pain may bring discomfort, the symptom often fades away within a few days. However, if you are experiencing chronic stomach pain frequently, it may be a sign of a more serious problem.
When to Visit a Gastroenterology Specialist for Stomach Pain
Digestive disorders affect millions of Americans each year. One of the most common symptoms that is related to various digestive orders is stomach pain. Of course, the best way to determine the cause of digestive issues and get on the right path to living a more comfortable life is to visit a gastroenterology specialist.
At Northeastern Gastroenterology Associates in Honesdale, we are committed to helping patients find relief from the digestion issues they are experiencing. Stomach pain is a common symptom associated with many of the digestive issues we diagnose and treat. In this blog, we’ll shed some light on stomach pain and when it’s time to schedule a visit to your nearest gastroenterology specialist.
The Most Common Causes of Stomach Pain
Stomach pain, stomach ache, abdominal pain — it is referred to many different names. There are various reasons why you experience stomach discomfort. For starters, your digestive system can be very sensitive to changes and is typically pretty good at letting you know about issues that you may not otherwise be aware of. Here are some of the most common causes of stomach pain that don’t necessarily require visiting a gastrointestinal doctor.
Indigestion - Certain foods and beverages, including spicy foods, citrusy foods, caffeine, and alcohol can trigger stomach pain, bloating, heartburn, and gas. Many people suffer from chronic heartburn — or acid reflux — while others may just experience heartburn occasionally, especially after consuming trigger food or beverages. To prevent stomach pain caused by indigestion, make sure to drink plenty of water, avoid laying down after eating, and avoid food and drinks that have triggered stomach pain in the past.
Menstrual Cramps - For women, light to severe stomach pain can be experienced before and during menstrual cycles. After that, it’s common for women to experience normal and natural menstrual cramps. In more serious cases, women experiencing severe pain and cramping during periods could possibly have a medical condition called endometriosis. This condition is known to cause some serious symptoms such as severe cramping and stomach pain, painful bowel movements, or heavy bleeding during periods. Women experiencing these symptoms should visit their gynecologist.
Constipation - Being unable to have a bowel movement can be very discomforting and can trigger serious stomach aches. Constipation is something that will happen to most people at one time or another and there is often a reason behind the cause. If you haven’t been able to make a bowel movement in three or more days and are also experiencing stomach pain, consider taking the necessary steps to do so. Laxatives are typically a safe route. However, if laxatives and other remedies for constipation are not working, you may need to schedule an appointment with a medical professional.
Stomach Virus - Viral gastrointestinal infection, more commonly known as the stomach flu or the stomach virus, is known to cause symptoms like stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Stomach viruses are rarely serious and symptoms will typically pass in a week or two. The young and elderly are at more of a higher risk. Regardless, symptoms associated with stomach virus should be monitored closely and treated by a medical professional if the fever gets too high or lasts for too long, or if you’re unable to keep liquids down and become dehydrated. If you are experiencing viral gastrointestinal infection symptoms, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water!
Food Intolerances - Some people simply cannot eat certain types of food without experiencing stomach discomfort or abdominal distress. Food intolerances, or sensitivities, are generally associated with symptoms such as gas, bloating, stomach pain, or diarrhea, and usually occur after eating large amounts of the offending food within a few hours, Gluten, lactose, fructose, FODMAPS, and sulfites are among the most common foods that cause sensitivities.
See Your Gastroenterology Specialist for These Symptoms
There are some conditions that cause stomach pain and won’t go away without help from a gastroenterology doctor. Here are some symptoms that warrant a trip to a gastroenterology specialist when associated with stomach pain:
Persistent Bowel Changes - While everyone experiences diarrhea or constipation from time to time, in most cases the issues will clear up on their own. However, experiencing recurring changes in bowel movements accompanied with stomach pain may mean it's time to see your local gastroenterologist.
Rectal Bleeding - If you are noticing blood in your stool or blood on toilet paper when you wipe, then there could potentially be bleeding occurring somewhere within your gastrointestinal tract. In most cases, anal bleeding is caused by someone minor such as external or internal hemorrhoids or an anal fissure. However, noticing persistent or heavy bleeding along with stomach pain could be a sign of something far more serious and it is important to see a doctor right away.
Sharp, Sudden Pain in Lower Right Side - Sometimes people experience severe and sudden stomach pain in the lower right of their abdomen area. This abdominal pain could be appendicitis. Some people will also experience other discomforting symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or abdominal swelling. Appendicitis-related symptoms often appear rapidly, intensely, and will only get worse, so it is important to schedule an immediate appointment with your gastroenterologist or seek emergency medical care.
Worsening Stomach Pain - Experiencing persistent stomach pain should raise concern, especially if the discomfort begins to radiate to other parts of the body such as the back or shoulder. This could be a sign of a very serious issue related to your pancreas or gallbladder. If you’re dealing with a digestive condition that is affecting your pancreas, you may also experience nausea or vomiting, an increased heartbeat, or a tender stomach. A gallbladder attack is something that usually triggers sudden and severe stomach pain that can carry to the back or shoulders. Experiencing these discomforting symptoms should be followed by seeking immediate medical care.
These are just a few of the various cases that a gastroenterology specialist will likely be able to help with. Depending on the severity and frequency of stomach pain, and any other symptoms you may be experiencing, they may recommend tests such as an endoscopy, colonoscopy, and state-of-the-art imaging to determine what is causing your stomach discomfort. Once the cause of your stomach pain is identified, your gastrointestinal specialist will create a tailored treatment plan to eliminate, reduce, or manage stomach pain and discomfort.
Dealing With Stomach Pain? Visit Our Honesdale Gastroenterology Specialists
If you are experiencing persistent or chronic stomach pain that does not alleviate with traditional remedies and treatments or dietary changes, or is accompanied by other symptoms like fever, rectal bleeding, or changes in bowel movements, it is important to see a gastroenterologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. Contact Northeastern Gastroenterology Associates to schedule an appointment.