When to See a Doctor About Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain treatment in AtlantaWhen abdominal pain is severe, you know it is time to seek medical advice. Deciding when to see a doctor when experiencing milder pain is more nuanced. Perhaps the issue is discomfort more than pain. Perhaps you think you can wait it out. Piedmont Colorectal Associates discusses when it is time to seek a doctor’s help for abdominal pain.

Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain can indicate a multitude of conditions, ranging from the temporarily inconvenient to life-threatening. Here is just a small sampling of abdominal pain causes:

  • Appendicitis
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Colon cancer
  • Constipation
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Gas
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Indigestion
  • Kidney stones
  • Pancreatitis
  • Ulcerative colitis

While the causes run the gamut, the type of pain associated with each condition is often different. While colon cancer is very serious, the initial pain is typically mild. A gas attack, on the other hand, can result in bad pain.


If you are relatively sure of the trigger for your abdominal pain, such as consuming a spicy meal, you might want to take an over-the-counter antacid or anti-gas medication. If there’s a bug going around your community, that’s another potential trigger.

If the abdominal pain worsens, or goes away and returns, it is possible that there is another culprit. Keep a record of your pain, when it occurs, any suspected triggers and the length of time between its subsiding and the next flare-up. This information can prove useful to the doctor if you do seek treatment.

When to See a Doctor

It is critical to see a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Dull pain lasting more than one week
  • Bloating for more than two days
  • Diarrhea for more than five days
  • Pain increasing in severity and frequency
  • Pain with vomiting or diarrhea
  • High fever accompanying pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Yellowing skin
  • Sudden weight loss

Depending on the diagnosis, you might receive a referral to a gastroenterologist or a colorectal surgeon. Although these are different fields, they both treat conditions in which abdominal pain is a major symptom. The former specializes in diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, while the latter focuses on colon, rectal and anal problems.

Emergency Situations

Head to the emergency room in any of the following situations, even if the pain is not truly severe:

  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Black bloody or dark red feces
  • Continuous bleeding from the bowels
  • Extreme abdominal tenderness
  • Abdominal pain radiating to the back
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain accompanying abdominal pain

Abdominal pain resulting from trauma should always receive immediate attention.

For More Information, Arrange a Consultation

If you have been experiencing persistent abdominal pain, schedule a personal consultation with the Piedmont Colorectal Associates team. We will conduct diagnostic tests to determine the source of your abdominal pain and discuss treatment options.