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What are the common causes of lower abdominal pain?

05 May 2020 in Health

Pain in the lower abdomen generally means pain below your belly button.

It’s often associated with a digestive problem like an upset tummy, but not always -- so you shouldn’t ignore new or unexpected pain.

Your lower abdomen is home to many important organs, including the bladder, uterus and ovaries, so any severe or long-lasting pain should be checked by a doctor.

But if you know the cause of the pain, you can take appropriate action.

Here are the common causes of lower abdominal pain.

Causes in both men and women

Your small intestine, large intestine and rectum are in the lower abdomen. Any condition that affects these organs can cause pain in the area. This includes:

Constipation

Constipation is a common condition that can cause uncomfortable, cramping pain in the lower abdomen.

It can result from eating a low-fibre diet with too much processed food, an inactive lifestyle (not enough exercise) or not drinking enough water.

Occasionally, constipation can be a sign of a serious medical condition like bowel cancer.

If you have constipation, you can usually treat it at home by going for a daily walk, drinking plenty of fluids and eating high-fibre foods like brown rice, lentils, beans or wholemeal bread.

Fibre isn’t digested, but it helps move food through your bowels. It can also help to lower or control your cholesterol.

If your symptoms persist, a pharmacist or doctor will be able to help you.

Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis (sometimes called stomach flu) is another common cause of pain in the lower abdomen.

It’s usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection (tummy bug) that irritates and inflames the lining of your stomach and intestines, causing pain.

As well as abdominal pain, it can also cause diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite, a mild fever and aching limbs.

There’s no specific treatment for gastroenteritis, but you can ease your symptoms by getting some rest and drinking plenty of water (or fruit juice) to avoid dehydration.

For abdominal pain you can take an everyday painkiller like paracetamol.

Symptoms usually clear up within a week.

Hernia

Pain in the lower abdomen may also be due to an abdominal hernia.

This is a bulge or swelling in or around your tummy. They develop when part of your bowel pushes through the layer of muscle covering your abdomen, sometimes causing a dull, aching pain in your abdomen or groin.

Hernias don’t always need to be treated, but they can cause serious complications.

If you think you may have a hernia, see a doctor.

Causes of lower abdominal pain in women

It’s normal to feel a small amount of abdominal pain during your period, but sudden, unexpected pain in your lower belly may be due to a more serious condition.

Possible causes include:

In rare cases, lower abdominal pain can be a symptom of endometriosis or a pelvic abscess, where pus builds up in the space between your womb and vagina.

Note: In women of childbearing age, lower abdominal pain can be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy - a life-threatening condition with serious complications.

If you’re experiencing severe or unexpected abdominal pain, see a doctor.

Causes of lower abdominal pain in men

In men, lower abdominal pain can be a symptom of a UTI or a twisted testicle (testicular torsion).

Testicular torsion is when the testicle twists inside the scrotum. It normally causes sudden and severe pain in the testicles and abdomen, and your testicles may become swollen.

If you experience this type of pain, seek emergency medical treatment.


References:

Payne D. Left Lower Abdominal Pain | Left Lower Quadrant | Causes & Treatment [Internet]. Patient.info. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

Payne D. Right Lower Abdominal Pain | Right Lower Quadrant [Internet]. Patient.info. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

Harding D. Ovarian Cyst | Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment [Internet]. Patient.info. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

Pelvic pain [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

Hernia [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

Newson D. Testicular Torsion | Causes, Symptoms and Effects [Internet]. Patient.info. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

[Internet]. Uhb.nhs.uk. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

Harding D. Constipation | Causes, Symptoms and Treatment [Internet]. Patient.info. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

Constipation [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

Gastrojournal.org. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

How to get more fibre into your diet - Your.MD [Internet]. Your.MD. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

Diarrhoea and vomiting [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

Stomach ache [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2020 [cited 27 March 2020]. Available here.

Diarrhoea and vomiting (gastroenteritis) - Your.MD [Internet]. Your.MD. 2020 [cited 6 May 2020]. Available here.

Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.

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