Stomach pain strikes everyone at one time or another. The occasional stomach ache, or mild abdominal pain, is usually not cause for worry. Sudden, sharp severe pain, though, may warrant immediate medical attention or at least a timely call to your physician.
Many health conditions cause stomach pain. Depending on the type of pain (cramping, burning, pressure, sharp or gnawing), location of the discomfort (upper or mid-torso or closer to the belly button) and duration (new, longstanding, constant or episodic), abdominal discomfort may signal a gastrointestinal disorder. At NorthShore, our knowledgeable gastroenterologists can help you narrow down the possible GI reasons for your stomach pain.
Cramping, bloating and/or gas followed by constipation or diarrhea are the hallmarks of a very common GI condition known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Unless followed by wheezing, hives, rash or other typical allergic reactions, stomach pain in adults often can’t be blamed on food allergies. Allergy testing usually isn’t recommended in these cases. On the other hand, sensitivities to foods containing lactose, fructose or gluten can set off the abdominal discomfort of IBS or other GI conditions such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease.
Discussing your symptoms with your physician is the first best step toward a diagnosis.