Various processes that can occur, include inflammation, ulceration, infection or tumour. Abdominal disease may be of rapid onset, described as acute, or more long term when it is termed chronic. General symptoms of abdominal disease include:
Pain This is ussualy ill defined but can very unpleasant and it termed visceral pain. Pain is initially felt near the mid line of the abdomen. Generally, abdominal pain felt high up in the mid lin originates from the stomach and duodenum. Pain that is felt around the umbilicus arises from the small intestine, appendix and first part of the large bowel and low mid line pain comes from the rest of the large bowel. If the diseased organ secondarily inflames or inflects the lining of the abdominal wall-the peritoneum- perotinitis occurs and pain becomes more defined and quite severe, with local tenderness over the site of the organ itself. Hence the pain of appendicitis begins as a value mid-line pain and inflamed appendix has caused localized peritonitis, perforation of one of the hollow organs in the abdomen- for example, a ruptured appendix or a gastric or duodenal ulcer eroding the wall of the gut- ussually causes peritonitis with resulting severe pain. The character of the pain is also important. It may be constant, as a occurs in inflammatory diseases and infections or colicky ( intermittent ) a a intestinal obstruction
Swelling The commonest cause of abdominal swelling in women is pregnancy. In disease swelling may be due to the accumulation of trapped intestinal contents within the bowel, the presence of free fluid ( ascites) within the abdomen or enlargement of one or more of the abdominal organs due to benign causes or tumour.
Constipation is the infrequent or incomplete passage of faeces, sometimes only flatus can be passed and, rarely. No bowel movements occur. It is often associated with abdominal swelling. In intestinal obstruction, the onset of symptoms is ussually rapid with complete constipation and severe, colicky pain. In chronic constipation, the symptoms occur more gradually.
Nausea and vomiting may be due to irritation of the stomach, or intestinal obstruction, when it may be particularly foul and persistent. There are also important non abdominal causes, such as in response to severe pain or motion sickness.
Diarrhoea may indicate serious disease, especially if it is persistent or contains blood.
Jaundice is a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes and may be due to disease in the liver or bile ducts