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Stomach Pain: Know When and Where to Get Help

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Stomach pain and other gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms — such as cramping, constipation and diarrhea — can range from minor discomfort to severe pain and symptoms. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know when a little rest might do the trick, or when you need to seek immediate treatment at a nearby ER or urgent care center.

We’re here with our expert in gastroenterology, Thomas John, MD, to help you understand the source of your pain and help you get back to feeling whole again.

Understand Severe GI Symptoms

To know when and where to seek treatment, it’s important to be aware of your symptoms. “Not all stomach pain requires immediate medical care at a local emergency room,” explains Dr. John. “But specific symptoms with your stomach pain can be red flags for a more serious issue, such as a heart attack, cancer or gastrointestinal disease,” he says.

Have someone drive you to the nearest hospital or call 911 if you experience any of the following symptoms coupled with severe stomach pain:

  • Acute pain on the lower right side of your abdomen (may indicate appendicitis)
  • Blood in vomit
  • Blood in Stool
  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Dark or black stool
  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Fever
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Vomiting

According to Dr. John, “Your medical history also plays an important role in deciding when and where to seek treatment.” He advises heading to the ER if you experience abdominal pain and if any of the following apply to you:

  • You currently have or are being treated for cancer
  • You previously had gastric bypass surgery
  • You recently had abdominal surgery or an endoscopic procedure
  • You’re over 45 and are also experiencing tightness in your chest
  • You’re pregnant

When Urgent Care Can Help You Heal

Even if your stomach pain or gastrointestinal issues are not severe enough to send you to the hospital, you’ll still want to find relief quickly. When that happens, we’re here to help you at one of our convenient urgent care locations. Our expert providers like Dr. John can give you a comprehensive exam to help you understand the source of your GI or abdominal pain.

Urgent care can diagnose illness, order diagnostic tests and help you find relief from mild to moderate stomach pain or GI issues, accompanied by other symptoms like:

  • Blood in your urine
  • Burning feeling during urination
  • Chronic constipation
  • Dehydration from diarrhea
  • Fever above 100 degrees that lasts longer than three days
  • Recurrent fever that returns after 24 hours of being fever-free

Tips to Rest, Recover and Heal

“It can be easy to overdo it after experiencing stomach pain or a GI issue — whether it was serious enough to send you to the ER or a stomach bug you battled at home,” says Dr. John. Here are some of his tips to allow your body, mind and spirit to recover before you jump back into your daily routine:

  • Connect with your faith
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Enjoy your favorite TV shows and movies
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Read a new or favorite book
  • Visit with friends or family members

You may also experience a few lingering symptoms, such as stomach cramps, fatigue or mild nausea. A few simple tips can ease those symptoms and help you feel like yourself again:

  • Use heat for stomach cramps
  • Sip water, seltzer or ginger ale
  • Stay on a lactose-free diet
  • Try eating bland foods, such as rice, broth, crackers or pretzels
  • Try the BRAT diet: bananas, applesauce, bread and toast

Your Partner in Whole-Person Health

We’re committed to restoring you to your whole health as quickly and efficiently as possible with a complete network of physicians, specialists, emergency rooms and urgent care centers ready to support your healing.

To learn more about how our digestive specialists can help you take charge of your health, visit us at

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