Stomach pain can occur for any number of reasons. From kidney stones to stomach ulcers to food poisoning, many stomach conditions begin with the same symptoms.
However, many stomach conditions can be serious and require immediate medical attention. That’s why it’s important that you know the warning signs of each and can quickly identify whether or not you should seek care.
Here’s a look at the most common types of stomach conditions and when you should see a doctor (or visit an emergency room).
What Are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are solid masses or crystals that are made up of salts and minerals and form in your kidney but often move around and get stuck in your urinary tract.
One in 10 people will develop a kidney stone in their lifetime; however, the condition is often initially ignored or thought to be a simple stomachache.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to kidney stones, including diet, dehydration, medication, family history, and specific medical conditions.
What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Stones?
Unfortunately, when left untreated, kidney stones can result in infection or cause harm to the kidney, so it’s important that you’re able to identify early warning signs and seek treatment quickly.
Because your kidney is located partially underneath your ribs, you may notice pain start to occur in the flank area (near your middle back, between your ribs and pelvis).
In some cases, you may also experience pain that comes and goes, which is referred to as renal colic. Know that just because your pain has gone doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve passed your stone; it may just mean the stone is no longer backed up into the kidney.
Because the kidneys and GI tract share a nerve, nausea and vomiting are other symptoms of a kidney stone.
Finally, blood in the urine is a very common sign of a kidney stone. It’s possible to have blood in your urine without any other symptoms, so it’s a good idea to see a doctor even if this is your only symptom.
Can Urgent Care Test for Kidney Stones?
An urgent care facility is a great option for care if you believe you may have a kidney stone. In most cases, kidney stones will pass on their own, but it’s still important to get a proper diagnosis.
If you have signs of a kidney stone, a doctor will likely run diagnostic tests, which may include blood testing, urine testing, X-ray imaging, and analysis of the passed stones.
To encourage the stone to pass, you may be encouraged to drink plenty of water (up to 2 to 3 quarts per day) and take a medication that will help it to move. In very rare cases, a scope or surgery may be needed to remove large stones.
What Causes Stomach Ulcers?
One of the more painful stomach conditions is a stomach ulcer — painful sores that appear in the stomach lining. Most stomach ulcers are caused by an infection or by long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs.
What Are Symptoms of a Stomach Ulcer?
There are several symptoms associated with stomach ulcers, and the severity of the symptoms is directly linked to the severity of the ulcer.
Most people with a stomach ulcer complain of a burning sensation or pain in the middle of their abdomen. The pain is usually worse in between meals when the stomach is empty.
Other symptoms of stomach ulcers include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite because of pain
- Burping or acid reflux/heartburn
- Dull pain in the stomach
- Pain that disappears when you eat or drink
Can Urgent Care Treat Stomach Ulcers?
Fortunately, most stomach ulcers are easy to cure; however, when left untreated, they can become severe. If you’re showing signs of a stomach ulcer, an urgent care clinic is a great place to receive treatment.
A physician will likely want to walk through your medical history and discuss any medication you're currently taking. You may be asked to take a breath test (where you’ll drink a clear liquid and breathe into a bag) to rule out a certain type of infection. Blood and stool tests are also common to get a better idea of what’s causing the ulcer.
The treatment plan for your ulcer will depend on the cause and severity. In most cases, you will receive a prescription from your physician. Although rare, surgery can be required to help treat the condition.
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What Causes Appendicitis?
One of the most dangerous stomach conditions is appendicitis. This condition occurs when the appendix becomes inflamed as a result of a blockage in the organ that results in infection.
As the infection worsens, the appendix will become inflamed and begin to fill with pus. When left untreated for too long, the appendix can become so swollen that it ruptures.
How to Tell If You Have Appendicitis
The most common symptom of appendicitis is a sudden pain that starts on the right side of your lower abdomen. This pain may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, a low-grade fever, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
Some people who have appendicitis claim that the pain gets worse whenever they cough, walk or make other sudden movements.
Does Urgent Care Test for Appendicitis?
If you’re experiencing symptoms of appendicitis, it’s important that you seek medical attention immediately before serious complications occur. However, you may be wondering if you should visit an ER or urgent care for appendicitis.
An urgent care clinic can usually provide you with a proper diagnosis; however, in most cases, surgery is needed to remove the appendix. If surgery is needed, you will be immediately taken to a hospital.
In most cases, appendicitis can be diagnosed using common tests and procedures such as a physical exam, blood test, urine test and x-ray or advanced imaging.
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How to Get Rid of Stomach Pain?
Although the treatment depends on your symptoms, most stomach pain can be cured using over-the-counter medications. In some cases, home remedies such as chewing your food more slowly, eating smaller meals, exercising and avoiding spicy or fried foods can help alleviate pain as well.
When Should You Go to Urgent Care for Stomach Pain?
If you’re experiencing stomach pain that lasts for more than a few days or you’re unable to keep food down, you should seek medical help. Other symptoms such as bloody stools, pain when urinating, blood in your urine or the inability to pass stools also warrant a trip to urgent care or a doctor.
With more than 175 locations throughout the country, CareNow® is a great place to seek treatment for stomach pain. Each of our locations is open after normal physician’s office hours and on the weekends so you can get care whenever you need it.
With CareNow®, you know you’re getting quality care, as we’ve earned the distinction of Accredited Urgent Care Center from our industry’s association, Urgent Care Association (UCA).
We also offer a Web Check-In® feature that allows you to check in for your appointment from anywhere — because convenient care is important.