ABDOMINAL PAIN, MALE

Symptom Definition

  • Pain or discomfort located between the bottom of the rib cage and the groin crease.

General Information

  • There are multiple causes of abdominal pain.
  • Abdominal pain in the elderly carries with it a higher risk of serious illness.

See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one) If


WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR FOR ABDOMINAL PAIN

Call 911 Now (you may need an ambulance) If:

  • Passed out (fainted)
  • Very weak (can't stand)

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If:

  • You feel weak or very sick
  • Severe pain
  • Constant abdominal pain for more than 2 hours
  • Vomit contains blood or black ("coffee ground"-like) material
  • Vomiting bile (bright yellow or green)
  • Vomiting and abdomen is more swollen than usual
  • Blood in bowel movements (black/tarry or red)
  • Recent injury or blow to the abdomen
  • Fever of 103 F (39.4 C) or higher
  • Fever of 100.5 F (38.1 C) or higher and you:
  • Are over 60 years of age:
    • Have diabetes mellitus or a weakened immune system (e.g. HIV positive, cancer chemotherapy, chronic steroid treatment, splenectomy)
    • Are bedridden (e.g. nursing home patient, stroke, chronic illness, recovering from surgery)
  • Whites of the eyes have turned yellow (jaundice)
  • Unable to urinate and bladder feels full
  • Blood in urine
  • Pain in scrotum or testicle.

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9am and 4pm) If:

  • You think you need to be seen
  • Mild pain comes and goes (cramps), but lasts greater than 24 hours
  • Over 60 years old

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If:

  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Abdominal pain is a recurrent problem

Self Care at Home If:

  • Mild abdominal pain and you don't think you need to be seen

HOME CARE ADVICE FOR MILD ABDOMINAL PAIN

  1. Reassurance: A mild stomachache can be caused by indigestion, gas pains or overeating. Sometimes a stomachache signals the onset of a vomiting illness due to a viral infection (gastroenteritis).
  2. Rest: Lie down and rest until you feel better.
  3. Fluids: Sip clear fluids only (e.g. water, flat soft drinks or ½ strength fruit juice) until the pain has been gone for over 2 hours. Then slowly return to a regular diet.
  4. Diet:
    • Slowly advance diet from clear liquids to a bland diet
    • Avoid alcohol or caffeinated beverages
    • Avoid greasy or fatty foods.
  5. Pass A BM: Sit on the toilet and try to pass a bowel movement (BM). Do not strain. This may relieve pain if it is due to constipation or impending diarrhea.
  6. Avoid Medicines: Any drug could irritate the stomach lining and make the pain worse, especially an anti-inflammatory medicine such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Do not take any pain medicines, fever medicines or laxatives for stomach cramps.
  7. Expected Course: With harmless causes, the pain is usually better or goes away within 2 hours. With viral gastroenteritis, belly cramps may precede each bout of vomiting or diarrhea. With serious causes (such as appendicitis) the pain becomes constant and severe.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Abdominal pain is constant and present for more than 2 hours
    • You become worse or develop any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Adult HouseCalls Online. Copyright © 2000-2004 David Thompson, M.D. FACEP

Reviewed 8/2004

Revised 8/2003

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