When it comes to your tummy ache, not all stomach pains are created equal.
“Abdominal pain is another very common presentation to primary care and actually requires a lot of detective work,” says Arlene Wright, nurse practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.
And like many things in this world, it comes down to location, location, location.
“It’s all about location. Right side, lower abdominal pain can be indicative of appendicitis. Left lower quadrum pain could be diverticulitis. Upper right quadrum pain could be gall bladder problems. The epigastria area could be peptic ulcer disease or it could be worsening GERD. You also have to determine is it a urologic problem? Is it a gynecologic problem?” says Wright.
That’s why patient history and a physical exam are so important when it comes to pinpointing the cause of your pain. Many common symptoms will resolve themselves, but other times abdominal pain needs an intervention.
“You want to stress any alarm symptoms. Is there a sudden loss of weight, has the person lost appetite? Vomiting blood, bloody diarrhea - those are definitely all alarm symptoms that definitely warrant being seen,” says Wright.
Your health care provider will also ask you how long you’ve had the pain and to describe it, whether it’s crampy, stabbing, dull or sharp. To help them with their detective work, you have to provide the proper clues.