Upper abdominal pain can be caused by a variety of medical conditions. Among the common causes include acid reflux and gallbladder problems. Learning how to differentiate the pain caused by these disorders can help you in seeking the right treatment.
Gallbladder Problems vs. Acid Reflux
There are different things to consider when determining whether abdominal pain is caused by acid reflux or by a gallbladder problem. Things to consider:
Heartburn is the most distinct symptom of an acid reflux. It is the burning pain that can move from the stomach, up to your abdomen, and to the chest. This abdominal discomfort is felt as a result of a faulty or weakened lower esophageal sphincter – which is a muscle at the end of the esophagus. When this muscle does not close properly, stomach contents can move back up into the esophagus.
In contrast, the pain caused by a gallbladder problem can be felt at the middle or upper right section of the abdomen. In some cases, it can radiate to other areas of the body like the chest or the back.
People with acid reflux may notice that the pain worsens when they’re lying down or bending over. Although, this can often be relieved by taking antacids, standing, or belching.
Biliary colic is the kind of abdominal pain felt by those with issues in their gallbladder. It’s a pain that begins suddenly with fluctuating intensity. The pain comes and goes and may even start with high intensity. It remains constant but disappears, often gradually.
Heartburn is usually felt after having a big meal. It worsens when bending over or lying down.
Gallbladder problems can also cause pain after a meal, but it usually occurs several hours after eating. Some people start to experience the pain after consuming oily or greasy food. However, this isn’t true for all cases of gallbladder diseases.
Managing the Pain
Initially, traditional methods such as adjusting lifestyle habits or over-the-counter medications are suggested to relieve symptoms of acid reflux. If medications and lifestyle changes don’t work, surgery may be suggested.
Anti-reflux surgery, also called fundoplication, is a common surgical procedure done to relieve chronic acid reflux. During this procedure, a surgeon attempts to recreate the “valve” between the esophagus and the stomach by wrapping the upper portion of the stomach around the lower part of the esophagus and sewing it into place. This tightens the lower esophagus and helps to prevent acid from leaking up through the stomach and into the esophagus.
As for gallbladder issues, a cholecystectomy may help. A cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of the gallbladder in order to provide relief from pain, infection, and prevent gallstones.
Whether it’s acid reflux or a gallbladder issue, Premier Surgical in Knoxville has a team of experts who are here to help. We have board-certified physicians who can address issues of the alimentary tract and the abdominal area.
Not sure what is causing your abdominal pain?
Contact Premier Surgical today.