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Abdominal Pain, Age 12 and Older (cont.)

Prevention

Abdominal pain can often be prevented.

  • Develop regular bowel habits to prevent abdominal pain caused by constipation. For more information, see the topic Constipation, Age 12 and Older.
  • Develop regular eating habits. Overeating is a common cause of abdominal discomfort. Eat slowly and stop when you feel full.
  • To prevent abdominal pain caused by swallowing air (aerophagia), do not chew gum or drink carbonated beverages.
  • Prevent abdominal injuries by wearing your seat belt safely and correctly every time you drive or are a passenger in a car.
    • Wear both your lap and shoulder belts. The shoulder strap should cross the collarbone, and the lap belt should fit low and tight.
    • Do not wear your shoulder strap slipped behind the back or under the arm. This dangerous habit can cause severe injury, especially in cars with air bags.

Preparing For Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:

  • How long have you had the pain?
  • What were you doing when the pain started?
  • Did the pain start suddenly or develop gradually?
  • How severe is your pain? Rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10.
  • Is your pain generalized or localizedClick here to see an illustration.? If you have localized pain, where is it located?
  • Is your pain cramping, a steady ache, burning, or a tearing sensation?
  • Is your pain changing? If so, how?
  • Is the pain constant, or does it come and go?
  • Have you had other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, a change in urination, or fever?
  • Have you had this type of pain before? If so, did you see a doctor? How was the pain treated?
  • What makes the pain better? What makes the pain worse?
  • Have you recently traveled outside of the country?
  • Have you drunk any untreated well, stream, or lake water?
  • Do you have any health risks?

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