Intestinal Pain


What is Intestinal Pain?

Intestinal (abdominal) pain is the discomfort felt partly in the trunk, above the pelvis and below the ribs. The pain felt could be an indication of some underlying condition or side-effects from medication, food habits and lifestyle.

Note: Conditions of the lungs, heart and even kidney dysfunctions could result in intestinal pain in the abdominal cavity.

Intestinal Pain image

Causes of Intestinal Pain

Given below are the major causes that contribute in the cases of intestinal pain:

  • Chronic indigestion
  • Ischemic Colitis (loss of the blood supply)
  • Liver swelling due to hepatitis infection
  • Gallstones resulting in bile duct blockage
  • Obstructions in the intestine
  • Organ stretching or distention
  • Inflammation of the colitis, diverticulitis or appendicitis
  • Chronic constipation
  • Viral infection of the stomach
  • Menstrual cramps
  • IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Food poisoning
  • Allergic reaction to certain food items
  • Gas (or flatulence)
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Inflammation of the pelvis
  • Hernia
  • Gallstones (or cholelithiasis)
  • Nephrolithiasis (or kidney stones)
  • Endometriosis (abnormal tissue growth outside the uterus)
  • Ulcerative colitis (or Crohn’s disease)
  • UTI (or Urinary tract infection)
  • Diverticulitis (or inflammation of diverticula or pouches in the bowel walls)
  • Pancreatic, liver or stomach cancer

Symptoms of Intestinal Pain

Given below are the symptoms of Intestinal pain:

  • High fever
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation accompanied by forceful vomiting
  • Pain felt during urination
  • Increase in the frequency of passing urine
  • Tenderness of the abdomen
  • Pain felt is the resulting factor of some major trauma
  • Pain felt in the abdomen lasts for more than a few hours
  • Stomach Bloating
  • Excessive belching
  • Excessive passing of gas
  • Frequent indigestion
  • Feeling of discomfort in the abdominal cavity
  • Explosive diarrhea
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Side pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Appetite loss

Diagnosis of Intestinal Pain

Diagnosis of intestinal pain can be carried out by the following methods:

  • Physical examination
  • Lab tests — CBC (Complete Blood Count), tests of liver enzymes, amylase and lipase (pancreatic enzymes) and urine samples
  • X-ray scans of the abdomen
  • Radiographic imaging
  • Ultrasonography
  • CT (Computerized Tomography) Scans of the intestines and nearby organs
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Scans
  • Capsule Endoscopy
  • Barium X-rays
  • Endoscopic procedures such as (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) or EGD
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy or Colonoscopy
  • EUS (Endoscopic Ultrasound)

Home treatment for Intestinal Pain

Medical treatments are needed if symptoms become severe and the overall condition starts to deteriorate. Given below are some home remedies for mild cases of intestinal pain:

  • Complete bed rest
  • Plenty of fluid intake for the prevention of dehydration
  • Avoid drinking carbonated drinks
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks like tea or coffee
  • Eat several small and balanced meals all through the day instead of three big ones
  • Eat a balanced diet that consists of rice, crackers or dry toast, applesauce and bananas
  • Avoid eating spicy, fatty food items and processed food items (sausages & fast food)
  • Avoid consumption of alcoholic drinks
  • Include regular exercise schedules in the daily routine
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes
  • Include ginger in the diet to ease the pain
  • Peppermint to stop flatulence and acid reflux
  • Chamomile tea
  • Take small amounts of baking soda to treat indigestion

Treatments for Intestinal Pain

Treating intestinal pain differs with different conditions responsible for the problem. It includes medications for prevention of inflammation of the digestive tract to antibiotics for the prevention of infections.

Given below are some of the most common treatments for intestinal pain:

  • OTC (Over The Counter) painkillers
  • Prescribed medications for GERD, ulcers, inflammation
  • Antibiotics to minimize the effects of viral or bacterial infection
  • Changes in lifestyle and food habits
  • Surgical procedures for the removal of intestinal blockages, infected organs and hernia
  • Medications for example, bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), ranitidine(Zantac),  loperamide (Imodium)

When to see the doctor?

It is strongly advised to seek medical attention as soon as any of the following symptoms are observed:

  • Bloody stools
  • Persistent vomiting and nausea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Yellowish skin texture
  • Excessive swelling of the abdomen
  • Increase in pain that doesn’t seem to subside
  • Severe symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.

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