ER or Not? Severe Stomach Pain.

Abdominal pain is the single most common reason that American patients visit the ER, accounting for close to 7 million visits per year. Stomach pain is something almost everyone experiences from time to time and can occur for many reasons, with widely varying degrees of severity. So when is your pain, or that of a loved one, severe enough to warrant a visit to an emergency room?

Listen to your “gut”. If the pain is abnormally intense and feels as though you need help right away, see a doctor immediately. Below are some guidelines that will help you decide whether or not your stomach pain needs emergency care.

Be sure to seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Stomach is tender to the touch
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Unable to eat without nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in your chest, neck or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath or dizziness
  • High fever
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dark or black stool
  • Vomiting blood

Appendicitis is an especially sensitive emergency. An inflamed appendix can rupture (burst), causing severe infection and even death. If you experience the following symptoms, be sure to seek medical treatment immediately.

  • Pain or aching in the right side of the abdomen, sometimes accompanied with swelling
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low fever that starts after pain begins

Those with certain medical conditions may require emergency care more quickly.

Stomach and abdominal pain may be an indication of a more serious issue for individuals with certain medical conditions. If you have any of these medical conditions in combination with severe abdominal pain, you should visit an emergency department immediately:

  • Individuals who recently had endoscopy or abdominal surgery
  • Women who are pregnant or who could be pregnant
  • Individuals over age 45 experiencing upper abdominal pain or tightness in the chest (may indicate a heart attack)
  • Individuals who have undergone gastric bypass surgery

When minutes matter, we're moments away.

At Henrico Doctors' Hospital, our fast, friendly emergency room provides the highest quality care for all ages when you need it most. Our 24/7 commitment to care ensures that patients will be seen quickly (our average ER wait time is less than 10 minutes) by our board-certified emergency medicine physicians.

Our expert team assesses each patient upon arrival, meaning there is also virtually no wait time for potentially life threatening conditions, such as stomach pain.