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Stomach Pain and Conditions

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Abdominal pain and other stomach conditions affect most people at one point or another. In most cases, stomach pain is short lived and will go away on its own. But it can sometimes be linked to more chronic and severe conditions.

WakeMed’s gastroenterologists have the expertise and training to accurately diagnose stomach pain and conditions — from common to rare, and chronic to acute.

Types of Stomach Pain and Conditions

Some of the stomach conditions WakeMed gastroenterologists treat include:

  • Appendicitis: A relatively common condition for children and young adults, in which the appendix becomes inflamed and causes pain
  • Gallstones: Hardened deposits of digestive fluid that form in the gallbladder, which if causing pain usually require surgical removal
  • Gastroenteritis: Often called the stomach bug, a contagious illness in which symptoms can include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and general discomfort
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease): A common condition where contents from the stomach come back into the esophagus, causing a burning feeling and other painful symptoms
  • Heartburn: A burning feeling that occurs in the chest or throat
  • Pancreatitis: An inflammation of the pancreas
  • Stomach ulcers: Painful sores in the lining of the stomach
  • Diverticulitis: inflammation of small pouches in the colon, causing abdominal pain and fever.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A chronic, benign condition characterized by abdominal cramping in relation to bowel movements, often worsened by stress.

How Do You Diagnose Stomach Pain and Conditions?

If you have chronic stomach pain that doesn’t seem to be getting better, call your doctor.

You should also make an appointment with a gastroenterologist if you’re experiencing symptoms including:

  • Severe pain
  • Bloody stools
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Severe tenderness in the abdomen
  • Swelling of the abdomen

When evaluating patients, our gastroenterologists start by taking a detailed patient history and a review of symptoms.

Tests we may use to diagnose stomach conditions include:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • CT scan and MRI
  • Upper endoscopy and/or colonoscopy
  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) series, which is an X-ray series of the upper digestive tract
  • Blood tests
  • Endoscopic ultrasound, in which the gastroenterologist inserts a special endoscope (a thin flexible lighted tube with a camera on the tip) into the patient’s mouth to inspect the esophagus, stomach and duodenum

How Do You Treat Stomach Pain and Conditions?

Treatment varies depending on the specific stomach condition. Some, like viral gastroenteritis, may require a wait and see approach. Others respond well to medication, and over-the-counter medication may be recommended first. If that doesn’t work, our physicians may prescribe prescription medication. Some conditions, like appendicitis and gallstones, may require surgical treatment.

Lifestyle modifications can also be helpful for stomach conditions, including:

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Eating a diet full of fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits
  • Avoiding foods that seem to trigger symptoms
  • Drinking more water
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Many stomach conditions can be impacted both positively and negative by diet, and we offer our patients nutrition counseling to help them manage their conditions and make smart nutritional choices.

Make an Appointment

If you or someone you care for is experiencing worrisome symptoms, we encourage you to make an appointment with one of our adult gastroenterologists, pediatric gastroenterologist or colorectal surgeons.