Accessibility Statement

We are committed to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience. To do so, we are actively working with consultants to update the website by increasing its accessibility and usability by persons who use assistive technologies such as automated tools, keyboard-only navigation, and screen readers.

We are working to have the website conform to the relevant standards of the Section 508 Web Accessibility Standards developed by the United States Access Board, as well as the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1. These standards and guidelines explain how to make web content more accessible for people with disabilities. We believe that conformance with these standards and guidelines will help make the website more user friendly for all people.

Our efforts are ongoing. While we strive to have the website adhere to these guidelines and standards, it is not always possible to do so in all areas of the website. If, at any time, you have specific questions or concerns about the accessibility of any particular webpage, please contact WebsiteAccess@tenethealth.com so that we may be of assistance.

Thank you. We hope you enjoy using our website.

Skip to Main Content

Watch Out for Gallstones and Five Other Abdominal Emergencies

Gallstones are a common condition that can get worse if not managed. Having gallstones in your gallbladder can cause a considerable amount of pain in your abdomen and lower back areas. When are abdominal pains bad enough to require a visit to the ER? Let’s start with gallstones and then add five other abdominal emergencies that warrant a trip to the emergency room.

What are Gallstones?

Gallstones are hard deposits that form in your gallbladder. They can form when there’s too much cholesterol or waste in your bile, or if your gallbladder doesn’t empty properly. Medication may aid in dissolving gallstones, but in more urgent scenarios, surgery may be needed.

What are the symptoms?

A gallbladder attack causes a sudden gnawing pain that gets worse. You may feel it in the upper right or center of your belly, your lower back, or between your shoulder blades. You might also vomit or feel nauseous. Other tell-tale signs include:

  • Jaundice
  • Tenderness when urinating
  • A sharp pain in the abdomen
  • Difficulty relieving yourself on the toilet

What Are the Treatments for Gallstones?

Surgical removal of the gallbladder is a frequent remedy. Gallstones are a common reason to go to the ER, because a person with this condition may require immediate removal of the gallbladder.

Other Abdominal Emergencies

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is when part of your aorta balloons with blood and ends up running through your abdomen. Over time, the bulge in your aorta weakens until the force of normal blood pressure can cause it to rupture. This can lead to severe pain and massive internal bleeding. Symptoms include:

  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Low blood pressure

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is most often seen in males over age 60 who have one or more risk factors. The larger the aneurysm, the more likely it is to break open or tear. This can be life threatening and requires emergency care.

Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. Almost all ectopic pregnancies—more than 90%—occur in a fallopian tube. As the pregnancy grows, it can cause the tube to rupture. A rupture can cause internal bleeding which can be a life-threatening emergency that needs immediate surgery.

Symptoms include:

  • Missed menstrual period
  • Tender breasts
  • Upset stomach
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Mild cramping on one side of the pelvis

Abnormal bleeding and pelvic pain should be brought to the attention of your obstetrician–gynecologist immediately. If you have sudden, severe pain; shoulder pain; or weakness, you should go to an emergency room.

Gastritis

Gastritis causes the inflammation of your stomach lining. The bacteria that causes Gastritis may also be found in patients suffering from ulcers. Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Diarrhea

Gastritis is an emergency if you have severe abdominal pain and vomiting. Symptoms include:

  • Paleness
  • A racing heartbeat
  • Dizziness and shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Vomiting blood
  • Bloody stool

Peptic ulcer

A peptic ulcer is an open sore or raw area found in the lining of your stomach or intestine. It causes the breakdown of your stomach lining. Symptoms of an ulcer include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

An ulcer becomes an emergency when perforation takes place. A perforated ulcer is a condition in which an untreated ulcer has burned through the gastrointestinal tract, allowing gastric fluid to leak into the abdominal cavity. Symptoms of a perforated ulcer include:

  • Sudden, severe pain in the upper abdomen
  • Pain spreading to the back or shoulder
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Bloating

Excessive Vomiting

Vomiting is your body’s way of letting you know that you’ve ingested something that doesn’t settle right in the stomach. If you suffer from recurrent vomiting, this may be caused by underlying medical conditions that need medical assessment. In some cases, vomiting can lead you to require emergency medical attention. You should immediately go to the doctor if you:

  • Vomit for more than one day
  • Suspect food poisoning
  • Have a severe headache accompanied by a stiff neck
  • Experience abdominal pain

It’s difficult to entirely avoid viruses that cause vomiting. However, you can reduce your chances of getting a virus by exercising good hygiene, like washing your hands regularly.

Don’t delay in an emergency. Your safe care is our #1 priority.

Sources:
Medical News Today
Science Daily
Medline Plus
Healthline
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Are you a Candidate?

Find out if weight loss surgery is right for you.

Speak to a Bariatric Surgery Patient Navigator

Fill out a contact form and we’ll connect you to our Bariatric Surgery Navigator.