Looking for some ideas: What might be causing this pain?
June 12, 2010 10:48 AM   Subscribe

You are not my doctor, you are not my husband's doctor, but at the same time, what might be wrong with my husband? He developed severe stomach pain (directly where his stomach is) which came on suddenly. It lasted somewhere close to six hours. Now it has changed to more generalized, gastrointestinal pain....

Details: He came home from work very stressed at about 10 pm, after a long day. He says he ate lunch at about 3, and it was a cheeseburger and a drink. Shortly after coming home, he had a bowl of rice with eel sauce and sesame seeds. I ate some of the same rice at about the same time. His stomach was bothering him right before he ate, but increased to being extremely painful shortly thereafter. The pain in his stomach area remained painful from about midnight until at least 5 am when I fell asleep. He tried to vomit, but was only able to bring up about a bite of rice - there was no blood or anything else unusual in the vomit. I woke up a number of times to check on him, and he said it felt slightly better. Today, he is now complaining of more generalized pain in his abdomen, which shifts around in his intestinal region. It also hurts to move around, and he says his abdomen feels sore. He is disinterested in food and fluid, but I have been trying to make sure he drinks plenty of water and other clear fluids.

He doesn't appear bloated, the abdomen is not sore to the touch. He does have IBS, but it is generally of the diarrheal type. This is unlike any attack he has had before.

My current running theory is food poisoning of some type, but I have no idea what kind it might be. Any input is appreciated. If he is not showing improvement within 24 hours I will be taking him to the ER. I nearly did this morning, but the pain had subsided to less than excruciating, so we thought it best to see if this improves any.
posted by strixus to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sounds like it could be a gallbladder "attack" Check out this page at the NIH and see if it sounds familiar at all.
posted by jessamyn at 10:53 AM on June 12, 2010

This happened to me about two weeks before my first full-on panic attack. I personally would pinpoint a physiological stress reaction for the initial super-awful, doubling-over cramps, and a resultant muscle fatigue since then. If he's that stressed on a regular basis, there are some lifestyle/thinking changes in store.
posted by mykescipark at 10:53 AM on June 12, 2010

Call a doc. This could be his gall bladder.

If it is, attacks could come and go.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:54 AM on June 12, 2010

Response by poster: Oh, some more details. He takes pain medication on a daily basis, and it may well be that it wearing off is what caused the pain to increase when it did. He has said several times that "at least it is better than last night" today, so I'm hoping this is a good sign.

Jessamyn: no, the pain was too low to be that, and lacked the stabbing quality I've heard gallstones have. That was my first thought, honestly, and I ruled it out after bugging the hell out of him with questions.

Mykescipark: he's not generally that stressed regularly, this week has been particularly bad, and yesterday the worst day of the lot. Panic attack did occur to me as well (I get them) but he's his general self other than being in pain and miserable.
posted by strixus at 10:58 AM on June 12, 2010

Best answer: Appendix?
posted by gjc at 11:06 AM on June 12, 2010

Given what preceded it (esp. the superbad day at work), he may simply have irritated his bowels in some way that I'm sure I could articulate better if I were a GI doc (and your husband's GI doc). My dad (who is in his 70s and generally in good health) had an episode where his bowels just - twisted on him somehow. And it was painful as hell and sent him to the ER, but in the end they just really let time take its course after a day in the hospital.

Just because you ate some of the same rice doesn't really rule out food poisoning, either. The nasty FF hamburger is more likely to be the culprit anyway, both in timing and the sheer odds.

Since the pain seems to be subsiding, I think waiting 24 hours is OK, but if those gall bladder symptoms are ringing a bell and/or he has any more bad spells, I'd get to your doctor or an ER.
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:08 AM on June 12, 2010

I still wouldn't rule out gallstones. My mother spent years having occasional bouts of abdominal pain and discomfort that sound like what your husband experienced. One episode was bad enough that she did go to the hospital thinking it was food poisoning, and at that point they determined that she had gallstones, and had had them for years.

Anyway, you sound confident that you've ruled out gallstones, and you may be right. If this sort of episode does repeat itself and is correlated with high-fat meals, though, look back into gallstones.
posted by mandanza at 11:25 AM on June 12, 2010

Best answer: Had a friend with simmilar symptoms and it turned out to be appendicitis. It fooled us at first because the common symptom for appendicitis is pain, especially on quickly released pressure (rebound tenderness), in the lower right part of the abdomen, which he didn't have for the first 12-18 hours. He eventually went to see the doc the next day and it was confirmed as the appendix.

The doc said the onset of an appendicitis sometimes/often occurs as a pain in the center of the abdomen, just above the stomach. The pain can be delocalized at first. Lack of appetite and nausea are both common.

IANAD and it sounds like you need to have him see one, regardless.
posted by darkstar at 11:43 AM on June 12, 2010


Gah, hate typos!
posted by darkstar at 11:53 AM on June 12, 2010

Best answer: Yup, pain sounding very similar to when I had appendicitis. Doctor. Now.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:00 PM on June 12, 2010

Best answer: My similar pain turned out to be appendicitis, even with no reaction on the Blumberg/reflex tap. It felt much better after my appendix burst, which would be great except for the bit where that can kill you.

I would go to an urgent care clinic.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:01 PM on June 12, 2010

Best answer: You could be describing what I went through a couple of years ago. Same time frame. Same symptons. Generalized pain in the abdomen which shifted around. And my abdomen was also not sore to the touch.

It turned out I got to the hospital just in time for an emergency appendectomy!

The reason there was shifting pain and not localized to the lower right abdomen (which is common in some, but not all appendicitis cases), as well as no tactile response (i.e. Rebound tenderness) was my 'signs and symptons' were atypical (20% of appendicitis patients are) and indicated I had an retrocecal appendix (aka 'silent appendix').

I'm not saying your husband's symptoms indicate appendicits, but I don't think you should wait, as things could get worse. Please, get him to the emergency room. No one is qualified to diagnosis your husband online; only a real-life doctor can.
posted by ericb at 12:11 PM on June 12, 2010

Has he tried taking any anti-gas medications? Not discounting the possibility of something worse, but I have IBS and lactose intolerance and have suffered some excruciating and long lasting gas attacks that have behaved similarly. Sometimes it doesn't take a lot of gas to cause a lot of pain, especially if your bowel is already sensitive.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:37 PM on June 12, 2010

Best answer: strixus, my gallstone pain episodes were so low that the ER started treating me for uterine issues. Turned out to be three 1-centimeter gallstones and my gallbladder was 100% non-functional.

Also, my appendicitis was low and more central than on the right side.

I can't think of a good reason why you shouldn't be driving to the ER right now.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 12:58 PM on June 12, 2010

Best answer: Nthing possible appendicitis - my appendix got infected and burst and my only indicator of anything wrong was abdominal pain, without any of the usual symptoms specific to the appendix. Doctor immediately.
posted by Rallon at 1:27 PM on June 12, 2010

A friend had exactly those symptoms about 6 months ago. Even though everything seemed fine with the doctor's manual examination, she ordered an ultrasound.

The ultrasound turned up a GIANT tumor the size of a football, no lie! Occasionally the tumor would twist or bump into something, and cause those episodes of excruciating pain.

Luckily, it wasn't the bad kind of tumor, and surgery took care of it. But yeah: see a doctor.
posted by ErikaB at 1:58 PM on June 12, 2010

Best answer: Yet another vote for possible appendicitis. Since you haven't posted an update, I'm hoping you're at the doctor already getting this checked out!
posted by platinum at 2:38 PM on June 12, 2010

I had this twice, and ended up in the ER both times. The first time, they thought it was a kidney stone, which it, for a number of reasons, likely wasn't.

The second time, I was diagnosed with a intussuception of the terminal ilium, which they initially suspected (but later ruled out) to be Crohn's Disease.

Either way, get to a doctor ASAP. They might do a CT scan, which will help with the diagnosis. My pain the second time eventually elevated to the "GOD HAVE MERCY ON ME" level, before my wife dragged me to the ER and I was given morphine. He shouldn't try to be a hero. Just go get checked.
posted by 4ster at 2:39 PM on June 12, 2010

The bad stuff that this could potentially be is way too dangerous to be messing around with an internet diagnosis. Go to the emergency room.
posted by troublemenot at 3:47 PM on June 12, 2010

Response by poster: Update: Hes been asleep on and off since I last updated, and has been drinking miso soup on and off when awake.

He doesn't have a fever still, which is good, and the pain is less, but not decreasing any further. I'm letting him sleep for another while yet. If he's not out of pain by 10pm, I'm taking him to the ER.
posted by strixus at 4:15 PM on June 12, 2010

Look, take him earlier. My mom's bout with gallstones was made worse by the fact her gallbladder was gangrenous so they couldn't do the laparoscopy surgery-they had to do the old fashioned big slice. She was out of work over six weeks. When I had mine out, I was only out a week, and that's longer than most people.

This may or may not be gallstones but whatever it is stomach pain is nothing to mess with. You should have taken him earlier. Now, scoot!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:24 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Another emergency removal of a retrocecal appendix here. As others have said, it hurts but it doesn't fit the classic appendicitis profile. I was sure it was just nerves but went in anyway; docs knew instantly what was going on said it would have burst if I'd come 6-12 hours later. Go now, say I. This is what doctors, not we, are for.
posted by escabeche at 6:11 PM on June 12, 2010

You should take him to the ER to be safe. It could be nothing--stress reaction, gas, stomach flu. It could be moderatly serious--gall stones, appendicitis. But it could be deadly--an odd presentation for an MI or dissecting aortic aneurysm.
posted by MsKim at 7:57 PM on June 12, 2010

Response by poster: He's been seen at the ER - we are waiting on CT scans to be done to confirm apendix.
posted by strixus at 7:59 PM on June 12, 2010

Glad to hear you're in professional medical hands! Hope it all works out well and please do keep us posted.
posted by darkstar at 9:48 PM on June 12, 2010

Response by poster: Apendix confirmed. He's first on the list for surgery in the mornin (well in 5.5 hours at this point) - getting him a room asap so I can try to get some sleep before he goes in
posted by strixus at 10:24 PM on June 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Well, I just wanted to let everyone know, Endnull (hubby dearest) made it through surgery, and was awake, talking, and eating ice with no ill effects when I left.

I am exhausted, I'm going to go crash for a few hours, then head back.

He should be out of the hospital tomorrow morning though!
posted by strixus at 9:15 AM on June 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

Glad everything worked out and he's on the mend!
posted by darkstar at 3:49 PM on June 18, 2010

Response by poster: Husband has undergone and now totally healed from surgery. I am grateful to every single one of you in this thread. Thank you. And Null thanks you, even if he still doesn't get why I like "that blue website" so much.

Domo arigato gozaimashita *bows low*
posted by strixus at 12:15 AM on July 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

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