How to Cope With Abdominal Colic in Adults

Abdominal colic is a term used to describe severe spasmodic pain in the abdomen caused by distention, obstruction or inflammation. In adults, the spasmodic pain may appear suddenly or develop gradually and become chronic. Abdominal colic in adults has many possible causes, some of which are potentially serious, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians 2. For this reason, always consult your doctor about new cases of abdominal pain before attempting to cope with abdominal colic at home.

Check for rectal or vaginal bleeding and take your temperature. Bleeding and fever may indicate a serious problem, such as miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, a bowel blockage or an infection. Seek immediate medical attention if these symptoms are present.

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Take ibuprofen or naproxen to ease symptoms and inflammation if your colic is due to gastroenteritis or diagnosed ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. A heating pad may also be beneficial. The University of Maryland Medical Center warns against taking ibuprofen and other pain relievers if your abdominal colic is undiagnosed.

Try a laxative if you develop mild abdominal colic and have not had a bowel movement in several days or longer. You may be experiencing spasms associated with constipation. Eating a high-fiber diet and drinking extra fluids can also help prevent and treat constipation and associated abdominal pain.

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Go for a walk if your pain is tolerable or take a warm shower. In some cases, this can temporarily ease colic pain, especially if it is caused by intestinal gas.

Eat smaller meals and avoid caffeine, alcohol, wheat, dairy and chocolate, all of which can trigger abdominal colic in some people, such as those with irritable bowel syndrome or lactose intolerance, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, or NIDDK. Your symptoms may be related to a known or unknown underlying condition. If dietary changes ease your symptoms, discuss this with your doctor.

Call your doctor for a prescription-strength antispasmodic medication to reduce your pain and ease spasms. Because antispasmodic medications can cause or worsen constipation, your doctor may also prescribe a medication to relax the muscles in your intestines and bladder, according to the NIDDK.


The University of Maryland Medical Center states that gallstones or kidney stones usually cause abdominal pain in adults.


Severe cramping or abdominal colic in pregnant women is never normal, warns the March of Dimes. If you are pregnant, call your doctor immediately for advice.