Should You Go To An Urgent Care Center Or An Emergency Room For Abdominal Pain?
August 15, 2019

abdominal pain causesIt’s rather obvious that you’ve had some stomach pain or discomfort at one time or another. Abdominal or stomach pain denotes any discomfort in your body, which occurs between your pelvis and the chest. Most abdominal pains are mild, and they’re caused by various problems, which include muscle strain, indigestion, or food allergies.

In mild cases, symptoms often resolve on their own after a short while or after effective treatment. Common abdominal pain causes include: gastroenteritis, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome (I.B.S), acid reflux, food allergies, vomiting, and gastritis. Others include gastroesophageal reflux disease (G.E.R.D), constipation, Crohn’s disease, peptic or stomach ulcers, strained muscles, celiac disease, endometriosis or menstrual cramps, and bladder or urinary tract infections.

On the other hand, abdominal pain accompanied by chronic or severe symptoms may be an indicator of a serious underlying condition. For instance, abdominal pain resulting from appendicitis, organ failure, or advanced cancer may require emergency care. The less common abdominal pain causes, which often warrant emergency care, include: a ruptured appendix, hepatitis, food poisoning, hiatal hernia, invasive cysts, bowel, pancreatic, or stomach cancer, gall bladder stones, kidney infections, abdominal organ infarction, and cardiac problems such as congestive heart failure or atypical angina.

What to consider when you have abdominal pain

Urgent care centers are often open to handle non-specialized care even outside of the normal working hours. Their care is affordable and you can walk in and out within an hour without booking an appointment. They also accept a number of different insurance policies.

On the other hand, emergency rooms are meant to handle life-threatening health conditions. Therefore, unless you have a life-threatening condition, it’s always prudent to visit an urgent care center to avoid taking up space in an emergency room where a patient in critical condition may need medical help. In fact, a review by Becker Hospital showed that only 3% of urgent care center patients need to be referred to an ER after the severity of their condition is ascertained.

So, when does your abdominal pain warrant an ER visit?

1. Location and severity of your abdominal pain

If your stomach pain is debilitating or severe to the point that you cannot stand up, then it may be wise to visit an ER instead of an urgent care center.

2. Serious recent procedures or diagnoses

Some abdominal pain causes may result from recent abdominal medical procedures such as surgery to the appendix or severe medical conditions such as a ruptured appendix, cancer, cardiac conditions, or organ failure. For instance, if you experience abdominal pain after a recent surgery, then constipation or infections may be the immediate problem. But the severity of the symptoms that you experience will determine whether you should visit the ER.

If you experience abdominal pain and you’ve undergone the following procedures or diagnoses, then it may be prudent to promptly visit the ER instead of going to an urgent care clinic.

  • A recent surgery in the abdomen
  • Upper abdominal pain and chest tightness, especially if you’re over 45 years old
  • If you have a history of cardiac problems such as stroke and heart attacks
  • If you’ve undergone a recent gastric bypass surgery
  • If you’ve undergone a recent upper endoscopy or colonoscopy

3. Abdominal pain accompanied by additional serious symptoms

If you find these serious symptoms accompanying your abdominal pain experience, then it’s ideal to visit an emergency room instead of an urgent care center:

  • Abdominal pain and bleeding while expectant
  • Severe pain with a fever above 102°F
  • Abdominal pain accompanied by the passing of bloody or black stool or the vomiting of blood
  • Chest tightness and/or shortness of breath
  • Concentrated, sudden, and severe abdominal pain accompanied by the loss of consciousness
  • Abdominal pain accompanied by uncontrollable vomiting and chest pain

But if you experience moderate to mild pain resulting from non-serious abdominal pain causes then you can visit an urgent care center. This will be ideal if you’re not experiencing any accompanying serious symptoms. Non-serious abdominal pain causes, in this case, may include menstrual cramps, constipation, gas, acid reflux, gastroenteritis, and I.B.S among others.

Of course, when you go to Legacy ER and Urgent Care, you don’t have to choose! Legacy is pioneering a new model of medical care: a hybrid clinic that treats both emergency ailments as well as serious but less urgent conditions. So whether your abdominal pain warrants an emergency or not, you can get quick care at Legacy ER and Urgent Care.