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Oooh...My Stomach Hurts!

Oooh...My Stomach Hurts!

What is abdominal pain?
What can cause abdominal pain?
When should I call a health professional?

What is abdominal pain?
Abdominal pain, or a pain in your belly, is a symptom. It can be a symptom of something normal like your period. Or, it can be a symptom of an illness like gastroenteritis (stomach flu) or a serious condition that requires surgery like appendicitis.

There are many different kinds of abdominal pain. The kind of pain you feel can give clues to the cause. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Did the pain start suddenly or gradually?
  • Is the pain sharp or dull?
  • Do I feel the pain constantly or does it come and go?
  • Do I have other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, fever, or vaginal bleeding?
Your answers to these questions can help an adult or your health professional figure out what's wrong. back to top

What can cause abdominal pain?
Almost any problem with your digestive system, your reproductive system, or your urinary tract can cause abdominal pain. Digestive problems include gastroenteritis (stomach flu), ulcers, appendicitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Reproductive causes can range from normal menstrual cramping to sexually transmitted disease, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis. Bladder and kidney infections or stones can also cause abdominal pain. back to top

When should I call a health professional?
Many things can cause abdominal pain, so it's sometimes hard to know when to seek advice from a health professional. Call your health professional if:
  • you have a sharp pain in your belly, whether or not you have any other symptoms
  • you have pain along with a high fever
  • you have pain along with vaginal bleeding
In general, if your belly hurts for more than a few hours, tell an adult you trust or a health professional. If you're not sure what could be causing the pain, talk to your health professional. She or he can give you advice and help put your mind at ease. back to top

Last Modified Date: 4/4/2001
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