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Chest and Abdominal Pain
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When should I see a doctor?
Most chest and abdominal injuries will settle with appropriate rest and treatment, however, some require further assessment.
Moderate to severe chest injuries should always be assessed by a doctor to ensure the ribs, lungs or other internal organs including the heart have not been affected or damaged. However, in view of the possible consequences from any chest or abdominal injury, if in doubt, always consult a doctor.
If you experience any of the following symptoms from a chest/abdominal injury you should seek professional medical advice immediately;
- Severe chest or abdominal pain.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Pain in the chest or abdominal pain that lasts for more than 2 hours after an injury.
- Dizziness or a feeling of unsteadiness.
- Referred pain in the arm or legs.
- Any shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing.
- Severe coughing especially if associated with coughing up any blood.
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits (unable to go to the toilet or unable to control going to the toilet)
First Aid for Chest and Abdominal Injuries
In the case of minor chest and abdominal injuries, it is recommended to follow a modified version of the P.R.I.C.E. therapy principle. This series of treatment methods can be applied at home for at least the first 2 - 3 days.
P.R.I.C.E. stands for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
- Protection - Protect the injury from further damage. Protecting the chest or abdomen can be difficult but a back support can often help to open the chest and encourage normal breathing
- Rest - Refrain from exercise and try to reduce the demands of your daily activity to encourage recovery. Heavy exercise or lifting should definitely be avoided.
- Ice - The topical application of ice or cold therapy can assist in reducing the symptoms of pain and inflammation. Ice wrapped in a damp towel should be applied to the back for 15 minutes’ maximum.
- Compression – This is not possible for chest and abdominal injuries.
Elevation - This is not possible for chest and abdominal injuries.
Read more about all of the the P.R.I.C.E principles.
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