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ABDOMINAL PAIN IN ADULTS

When to Seek Medical Care

Call or see your healthcare provider if the patient has any of the following:

  • Abdominal pain that lasts more than six hours or is getting worse
  • Pain that stops the patient from eating
  • Pain accompanied by vomiting more than three or four times
  • Pain that worsens when the patient tries to move around
  • Pain that starts all over, but settles into one area especially the right lower abdomen
  • Pain that wakes the patient up at night
  • Pain with vaginal bleeding or pregnancy , even if the patient only thinks she might be pregnant
  • Pain accompanied by fever over 101°F
  • Pain along with inability to urinate, move the bowels, or pass gas
  • Any other pain that feels different from a simple stomach ache
  • Any other pain that alarms the patient, or concerns the them in any way

If the patient has any of the following, or cannot reach their healthcare provider, go to a hospital emergency department:

  • The "worst pain of your life" or very severe pain
  • Pain so bad the patient passes out or almost passes out
  • Pain so bad the patient cannot move
  • Pain and vomiting blood, or any vomiting that lasts more than six hours
  • Pain and no bowel movement for more than three days
  • Pain that reminds you of pain you had before, when you ended up needing surgery
  • Pain the patient thinks might be in their chest, but they aren't sure
  • Pain that seems to come from the patient's testicles
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Self-Care at Home

Abdominal pain without fever, vomiting, vaginal bleeding, passing out, chest pain, or other serious symptoms often gets better without special treatment.

  • If the pain persists or if the patient believes the pain may represent a serious problem, they should see their healthcare provider.
  • A heating pad or soaking in a tub of warm water may ease the patient's pain.
  • Over-the-counter antacids, such as Tums, Maalox, or Pepto-Bismol, also can reduce some types of abdominal pain. Activated charcoal capsules also may help.
  • Acetaminophen may help. Try to avoid aspirin or ibuprofen. These drugs can make some types of stomach ache worse.

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