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Abdominal Pain: Care Instructions

Picture of the four quadrants of the abdomen.


Abdominal pain has many possible causes. Some aren't serious and get better on their own in a few days. Others need more testing and treatment. If your pain continues or gets worse, you need to be rechecked and may need more tests to find out what is wrong. You may need surgery to correct the problem.

Don't ignore new symptoms, such as fever, nausea and vomiting, urination problems, pain that gets worse, and dizziness. These may be signs of a more serious problem. If you are not getting better, you may need more tests or treatment.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Rest until you feel better.
  • To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids. Choose water and other clear liquids until you feel better. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • When you feel like eating, start with small amounts. Do not have alcohol, caffeine, or spicy, hot, or high-fat foods for a day or two.
  • Avoid anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve). These can cause stomach upset. Talk to your doctor if you take daily aspirin for another health problem.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You pass maroon or very bloody stools.
  • You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • You have severe belly pain.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your pain gets worse, especially if it becomes focused in one area of your belly.
  • You have a new or higher fever.
  • Your stools are black and look like tar, or they have streaks of blood.
  • You have unexpected vaginal bleeding.
  • You have symptoms of a urinary tract infection. These may include:
    • Pain when you urinate.
    • Urinating more often than usual.
    • Blood in your urine.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You are not getting better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.