With advances in modern medicine—from high resolution scans to online diagnosis—patients are able to identify problems with more certainty than ever before. However, when it comes to targeting illnesses early, especially in highly sensitive intestinal and abdominal areas, there's no better barometer than patients listening to their own body.
"The body will talk to you," said Dr. Har Chi Lau, a surgeon at Hudson Valley Surgical with decades of experience in abdominal and intestinal surgery. Identifying the severity and frequency of pain is an easy and and important first step. "A pain in your abdomen may be a bad meal or a minor hernia, but more serious and consistent pain can be a warning sign."
Knowing where the pain is coming from can tell a lot about a potential problem. "Pain in the upper right abdomen, and even radiating up to the back and shoulder can be a gallbladder issue," said Lau. "Lower right pain is often appendix-related, while left lower discomfort is commonly diverticulitis." While pain may shift, noticing where and when it occurs is an easy way to target what may be wrong.
If abdominal pain continues or worsens over time, patients should schedule a consult with a doctor to dive deeper into the problem. As part of this initial visit, they should be prepared to answer a series of questions relating to specific conditions and triggers. "Most diagnoses will actually be determined during this conversation, and tests will actually be used to confirm what the doctor suspects."
If a serious problem, such as appendicitis, major hernia or other urgent issues are discovered during a scan, the doctor will weigh the best approach. "For some diagnoses where infection is not an overwhelming possibility, surgery may not be an option," said Lau. Antibiotics and simply time may be all that's needed. In other cases, it may be necessary to perform surgery to reduce the chance of further complications. "At Hudson Valley Surgical Group, we're not the first to say, 'We need to operate.'" Rather, Lau and his team prefer to first look, listen and create an approach that suits the patient.
To learn more about the full array of surgical services offered by Hudson Valley Surgical, click here.