First Aid Guide for Illness & Emergencies

First Aid Guide for Illness & Emergencies

Abdominal or Belly Pain

Diagram 12: Bending over with severe abdominal pain.
Diagram 12: Bending over with severe abdominal pain.

Step 1 ask these questions:

  • Location of the pain: Is it all over the belly or always in one spot?
  • Type of pain: Does it feel dull, sharp, crampy, steady, or like pressure?
  • Movement of pain from one place to another: Does the pain move to the back, chest, groin, right side, or left side?
  • Time: When did the pain start?
  • Intensity of pain: Is it mild or moderate pain or the worst pain you have felt?
  • Temperature: Is there a fever?
  • What: Anything that makes the pain better or worse? For example, food, sitting to standing, medications, lying still versus moving about, or having a bowel movement?
  • Communicate: Then call your doctor and describe the pain.

Step 2 for only mild pain:

  • Try sips of clear fluids (water, broth, fruit juice with half water) and gentle foods (saltine crackers, dry toast, rice, and applesauce).

Step 3 for pain that is worsening or severe:

  • Do not eat or drink, and do not take any medications. Avoid laxatives and enemas.

Step 4 seek emergency medical help or call 911 for the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain or pain that is quickly getting much worse.
  • A swollen or hard abdomen/belly, groin, or testicle.
  • Pain with a light touch on the abdomen.
  • Bending over and holding abdomen/belly. (Diagram 12)
  • Blood in bowel movements/stools or urine/pee.
  • Suspect a poison was swallowed.
  • Injury directly to the abdomen/belly, like a car accident or a fall.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea that will not stop.
  • Abdominal/belly pain with a fever.