There are a number of organs in your abdomen, such as the small intestine, the kidneys, and the stomach – so there are many potential causes of belly pain. If your pain is new, severe, or accompanied by nausea, vomiting and fever, it’s time for you to seek medical advice.
When to visit an urgent care clinic
You should come to urgent care right away for any unusual pain in your abdominal area, basically anywhere below the ribs and above the hips.
We’ll perform a physical exam, take a thorough history and see what need to be done in order to help determine the cause of your abdominal discomfort.
Determine the location of your pain
Come to an urgent care near you if you are experiencing pain anywhere in what you call your belly and your sides. This starts right below your ribs and ends above your hips, and includes pain in your lower back that is different from any usual pain from menstrual cramps.
How to know if your abdominal pain is serious
Any abdominal pain could be serious, as the underlying cause may need immediate care. You should seek emergency care if your abdominal pain:
- Comes on suddenly and is severe, especially in the lower right side.
- Comes on suddenly in the lower abdomen on either side, and you’re a woman.
- Gets increasingly worse in a short time.
Pain is pain, but if you also have any of these symptoms, you should seek urgent care:
- Abdominal swelling.
- Black or bloody stools.
- Constipation in spite of urge.
- Diarrhea or loose, watery stool.
- Gas and bloating, or the inability to pass gas.
- Nausea, vomiting.
- Radiating or pulsing sensation near the navel.
- Severe pain after eating a fatty meal.
- Weight loss.
Relieving abdominal pain
For mild discomfort
If your abdominal discomfort is not severe and you want to try to relieve it yourself, you can try over the counter (OTC) medicines. These may work if you simply have indigestion, heart burn, an upset stomach or mild food poisoning.
You might find some relief from a heating pad or hot bath, and you can try a dietary remedy, like:
- Baking soda in small amounts.
- BRAT diet. Eat only bananas, rice, applesauce and toast for a day or two.
- Cinnamon, cloves, cumin, honey, mint.
- Chamomile tea.
You certainly shouldn’t smoke or drink alcohol, and avoid fatty foods.
When stomach pain is worse at night
This is typically due to a digestive issue like acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or eating too soon before lying down. It might be due to gallstones, or stomach or intestinal ulcers.
If nighttime pain is accompanied by any of the serious symptoms listed above, you should seek urgent care.
Pay attention to persistent pain
If the pain keeps occurring over several days, visit your primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic.
MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. Abdominal pain (https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003120.htm)
National Library of Medicine. Abdominal pain (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK412/)