How should you react to experiencing a sharp, stabbing pain in your stomach?
This can happen to anyone, and it tends to be extremely unnerving. While you’re in pain, it’s difficult to think things through. You may be tempted to assume the worst of the situation, or you may do the opposite and try to ignore the problem.
The truth is that there are many possible reasons why you’re experiencing this kind of pain. It may be a passing symptom, or it could indicate that there’s something more serious going on.
Here are some questions you might have about sharp abdominal pain.
When Should You Contact Emergency Medical Services?
There are some situations that require you to contact 911 as soon as you register stomach pain:
- Stomach Pain After an Injury: If you have recently suffered an injury, the sharp pain might be a sign of internal damage. This can show up hours or even days after your injury. Call an ambulance as soon you notice any abdominal pain.
- Sharp Pain in Stomach and Chest at the Same Time: Numbness or pain in the stomach is one of the possible side effects of a heart attack.
If you’re experiencing sharp stomach pain, you should seek out immediate medical care in the following cases:
A Pain So Severe That You Can’t Move Freely
You Have Difficulty Breathing
Blood in Your Vomit or Your Bowel Movements
Swelling or Tenderness in Your Belly
Pancreatitis causes this combination of symptoms. It’s very important to get it treated immediately.
Fever Over 101 Degrees Fahrenheit
Yellowing in the Skin or the Eyes
These symptoms are called jaundice. In adults, jaundice can be the sign of an infection or a tumor.
Sharp Pain During Pregnancy
Even without any other symptoms, sharp abdominal pain during pregnancy can be a huge danger sign. If you’re pregnant and feel a stabbing pain, seek out medical help immediately.
When Should You Call Your Doctor and Schedule an Appointment?
The following symptoms indicate a serious and urgent condition. While you may not need an ambulance, contact your doctor without delay if you’re experiencing any of the following:
- Pain that lasts longer than a couple of hours
- Moderate fever alongside the pain
- Constipation, especially if you’re vomiting as well
- Prolonged vomiting or loss of appetite
- Pain or burning during urination
Even if you don’t have any of these extra symptoms, you can call your doctor to consult.
What Causes Sharp Abdominal Pain?
If you Google “sharp pain in stomach”, you’ll find an endless list of potential causes. WebMD lists seventeen possible reasons behind this symptom. Over on Healthline, stomach pain is linked to 172 different conditions.
Let’s look into some of the most common causes.
1. Indigestion and Gas
These symptoms come from eating too quickly or eating while you’re upset or anxious. Fatty foods and alcohol can lead to indigestion too. If you’re experiencing gas and indigestion, the pain will be located in your intestine or your upper abdomen.
These problems recede after you’ve had bowel movement. Taking an antacid can be a good way to ease the pain. Popular home remedies include chamomile tea, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda.
Indigestion is one of the most benign causes of sharp stomach pain. But if it is a common occurrence for you, you should speak to a doctor about it. These can be symptoms of a more serious medical condition.
2. Food Sensitivities and Allergies
Allergies may manifest in stabbing pain, bloating, and gas. The symptoms can also come from food sensitivities such as lactose intolerance.
This isn’t dangerous unless you’re at risk of anaphylaxis. If you have frequent stomach pain, you might want to do an allergy test. A few simple modifications to your diet could be all you need to get rid of the pain. In the case of lactose intolerance, your doctor may prescribe enzyme pills.
3. Food Poisoning
According to the CDC, around 48 million people in the US get impacted by food poisoning every year. Around 3,000 people a year die of it.
Apart from the pain, food poisoning symptoms include nausea and diarrhea. If your symptoms are severe or long-lasting, call a doctor.
Most cases of food poisoning pass without any treatment. Experts say that it’s better to avoid taking anti-nausea drugs until you’ve asked your doctor. If you suspect that the food poisoning came from mushrooms or seafood, you should call 911 right away.
4. The Stomach Flu
Getting the stomach flu (gastroenteritis) is an extremely uncomfortable experience. It tends to come with vomiting and intense diarrhea.
If you have gastroenteritis, you’re at serious risk of dehydration, so you should make sure to consume enough liquids. If you suspect you are getting dehydrated, look for medical help.
If you have gallstones, they may block a duct in your gallbladder. This is the source of the sudden, stabbing pain. Associated symptoms include jaundice and a fever.
While there are some natural remedies for gallstones, serious cases require surgery. Medications are a possibility as well.
6. Menstrual Pain, Ovulation Pain, and Gynecological Complication
During menstruation and ovulation, you may experience a stabbing pain in your lower abdomen. This is usually no cause for concern, and it should pass within a few hours.
However, this kind of pain may also come from ectopic pregnancy. This is a life-threatening condition that requires urgent treatment. It comes with vaginal bleeding.
If you have any reason to suspect you’re going through an ectopic pregnancy, contact a doctor right away. It generally requires surgical treatment.
In the case of strong menstrual or ovulation pains, you might benefit from medical testing. An underlying condition could be making these pains more severe.
If you’re experiencing sudden stomach pain, take a moment to consider other symptoms. If you also feel chest pain, call 911. Calling an ambulance is also necessary if you’ve recently been injured or if you consumed mushrooms or seafood. There are some other symptoms that require immediate medical care.
There’s a chance that your sharp abdominal pain is caused by an infection, a tumor, or a blockage of some kind. Hence, it’s very important to take this kind of pain seriously. If you act on it immediately, you can prevent various complications.