Guest Author - A. Maria Hester, M.D.
When you see your physician about abdominal pain there are certain things you should consider. Abdominal pain has many, many causes and the way your present your story and the details you give can help your physician make the diagnosis immediately, or can prolong your diagnosis and put you at risk of having a lot of unnecessary, potentially painful and expensive tests.
By thinking through your illness from its inception, you will empower yourself to help your doctor help diagnose you in a timely and cost-effective manner. Not only will this decrease your risk of complications, it will also bring you faster relief from your ailment and help you get on the road to recover much quicker.
The following are questions which you should ponder whenever you develop abdominal pain.
1. Which part of the abdomen hurts? (Doctor’s divide the abdomen into the following areas: upper mid-abdomen (epigastric), right upper quadrant (RUQ), right lower quadrant (RLQ), left upper quadrant (LUQ), left lower quadrant (LLQ), around the belly button (periumbilical), low mid-abdomen (pelvic), and above the pelvis (suprapubic)
2. Does the pain radiate anywhere? (e.g., to the back or shoulder blade)
3. Has there been any nausea or vomiting?
4. What brings on the pain and what relieves it?
5. How long does each episode of pain last?
6. is there diarrhea? (Are the stools loose or watery? What color are they? How often do you need to go, etc?)
7. Is there constipation (How many bowel movements have you had a week since this began, and how does this compare to your norm?)
8. Is the pain sharp, dull, achy, or burning?
9. Is the pain constant or does it come and go?
10. How does food affect the pain, if at all?
11. How is your appetite?
12. Have you experienced recent fevers or chills?
13. Has there been distention (bloating) of the abdomen?
14. Is there excessive belching or gas?
15. How long have the symptoms been going on?
16. Have you had these symptoms before?
17. Have you noticed any black, sticky stools or bright blood in the stools?
18. Have you experienced any changes in your urinary habits or pain upon urination?
19. Is the pain at its worst at onset or as time moves on?
20. Do you take over-the-counter pain medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, on a regular basis?
22. Have you had any abnormal vaginal discharge?