What Causes Abdominal Pain
There are many underlying causes of abdominal pain. Some of these are short-term causes that arent serious the symptoms may last only hours or days, and may clear up by themselves. Others are longer lasting and may be more serious.
There are also causes of abdominal pain that require urgent medical attention and may be life-threatening.
Some causes of abdominal pain are more common or less likely in certain age groups or genders.
Children often get stomach or abdominal pain. Some of the most common causes are gastroenteritis, wind or indigestion. Some causes of abdominal pain apply mainly to children, such as colic, intussusception, and testicular torsion. For more information on these, see abdominal pain in children.
Women may experience abdominal pain associated with their periods, pregnancy or problems with their urinary or reproductive system.
Older people are more likely than younger people to have abdominal pain due to heart or lung problems, bowel obstruction, or conditions such as diverticulitis or gallstones.
Signs Of Passing A Kidney Stone
David Cameron, DO, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Lewisville and Medical City McKinney, says that you will know immediately if you are passing a kidney stone, with pain in the side of your back or abdomen.
This is the worst pain of your life that you’re experiencing, Dr. Cameron says. It’s so profound that it’s beyond a 10. You’ll be incapacitated with the pain, quite often. It’ll lead to nausea and vomiting, the pain is so severe.
Causes Of Acute Stomach Pain
- Eating Too Much. Eating too much can cause an upset stomach and mild stomach pain.
- Hunger Pains. Younger children may complain of stomach pain when they are hungry.
- GI Virus . A GI virus can cause stomach cramps as well as vomiting and/or diarrhea.
- Food Poisoning. This causes sudden vomiting and/or diarrhea within hours after eating the bad food. It is caused by toxins from germs growing in foods left out too long. Most often, symptoms go away in less than 24 hours. It often can be treated at home without the need for medical care.
- Constipation. The need to pass a stool may cause cramps in the lower abdomen.
- Strep Throat. A strep throat infection causes 10% of new onset stomach pain with fever.
- Bladder Infection. Bladder infections usually present with painful urination, urgency and bad smelling urine. Sometimes the only symptom is pain in the lower abdomen.
- Appendicitis . Suspect appendicitis if pain is low on the right side and walks bent over. Other signs are the child won’t hop and wants to lie still.
- Intussusception . Sudden attacks of severe pain that switch back and forth with periods of calm. Caused by one segment of bowel telescoping into a lower piece of bowel. Peak age is 6 months to 2 years.
What Is Abdominal Pain Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention
Most people experience abdominal discomfort or pain at some point in their lives. Abdominal pain is usually felt in the part of the trunk below the ribs, above the pelvis and the groin. It can range in intensity from a mild ache to severe, disabling pain.
While abdominal pain isnt normal, it isnt necessarily serious, and it often resolves itself.
Constant Stomach Gurgling And Nausea
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Food Intolerance / Faulty Diet And Eating Habits
Abdominal pain is a common symptom with a wide range of causes. The abdominal pain can be a reflection of a disease or indigestion.
Overconsumption of certain foods and drinks can cause constant stomach pain for days.
The stomach pain can be a result of:
- Eating the wrong types of food.
- Eating Excess amounts.
- Bad eating habits (such as eating before bedtime or talking while eating.
Types of foods that commonly cause stomach pain that lasts for days include:
What Causes Nausea Or Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but they are symptoms of many conditions such as:
- Motion sickness or seasickness
- Early stages of pregnancy
- Bulimia or other psychological illnesses
- Gastroparesis or slow stomach emptying
- Ingestion of toxins or excessive amounts of alcohol
- Bowel obstruction
The causes of vomiting differ according to age. For children, it is common for vomiting to occur from a viral infection, food poisoning, milk allergy, motion sickness, overeating or feeding, coughing, or blocked intestines and illnesses in which the child has a high fever.
The timing of the nausea or vomiting can indicate the cause. When appearing shortly after a meal, nausea or vomiting may be caused by food poisoning, gastritis , an ulcer, or bulimia. Nausea or vomiting one to eight hours after a meal may also indicate food poisoning. However, certain food- borne bacteria, such as salmonella, can take longer to produce symptoms.
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Bloating Stomach Pain & Nausea What Do These Symptoms Indicate
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How Is Abdominal Pain Treated
Treating abdominal pain depends on its cause. Options include:
- Medications for inflammation, gastroesophageal reflux disease or ulcers.
- Antibiotics for infection.
- Changes in personal behavior for abdominal pain caused by certain foods or beverages.
- Local or spinal injections of numbing agents or corticosteroids by pain management physicians.
In more severe cases like appendicitis and hernia, surgery is necessary.
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The Link Between Your Gut Microbiome And Your Health
In addition, many of the underlying conditions that cause abdominal pain can lead to serious complications, including the possibility of structural damage to the digestive system from infection, cancer and its treatments, and inflammatory bowel disease .
To reduce the risk of complications, its important to seek medical attention for your abdominal pain if its sudden and severe, or if it includes symptoms like fever, bloody stool, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, or visible swelling.
Prognosis Of Abdominal Pain
How long your abdominal pain lasts, and whether it gets better or worse, will depend on the cause of your pain and how the pain responds to any treatments.
Many forms of abdominal pain tend to respond to self-care measures or simply get better on their own, including pain caused by constipation, food allergies or intolerances, or stomach viruses.
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Stomach Pain And Nausea: Causes Symptoms And Treatments
Although there are still many conditions that can cause stomach pain and nausea at the same time, some are more common than others.
Most of these conditions arent an emergency, and will often go away on their own. But if your symptoms persist especially if they return after you eat or your stomach pain or nausea are severe, call a doctor.
Learn possible causes of concurrent stomach pain and nausea, and how the causes are treated.
Some conditions that cause stomach pain and nausea come on suddenly and may go away quickly, while others may be long-term. Some are also more severe than others. Your other symptoms may help you determine the underlying cause.
Which Medicines Can Cause Abdominal
Some medicines can cause abdominal pain as a side effect. Common examples include:
If you, or someone you are caring for, has an episode of abdominal pain that you think may be related to a medicine, talk to your pharmacist or doctor. There may be an alternative medicine that is better for you.
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What Causes Sudden And Severe Abdominal Pain
Sudden and severe abdominal pain should never be ignored. Steadily worsening abdominal pain may also be a sign of a serious condition.
If you have these symptoms, go immediately to your nearest hospital emergency department or call triple zero and ask for an ambulance.
Some of the causes of serious abdominal pain include:
When To Make An Appointment To See Your Doctor
Schedule an appointment to see your doctor if:
- Your stomach pain doesnt go away within a couple of days.
- The pain comes back after going away.
- Symptoms like diarrhea dont go away within a couple of days.
- Youre urinating more or less often, and/or its painful.
- You have unintended weight loss.
Know your body, Dr. Kingsley says. If you start having pain that you have not had before and does not go away, you should contact your doctor to be evaluated further.
Bottom line: Trust your gut! Contact your doctor if youre concerned about lingering or unusual stomach pain.
Editor’s Note: This infographic was originally published on June 24, 2014.
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When To Call Your Healthcare Provider
Some kinds of stomach pain need immediate attention. With others, you can call or visit your healthcare provider. It can be hard to know what you should do. Listen to your body and trust your instincts if you’re not sure.
If you have any of these symptoms along with stomach pain, call your healthcare provider within a day or two:
- Excessive vaginal bleeding or blood clots
- Vaginal bleeding that lasts for longer than usual
You should also call your healthcare provider if you have stomach pain while you are being treated for cancer.
When Should I Call The Doctor
Sometimes, what seems like one problem food poisoning, for example can turn out to be something more serious, like appendicitis.
- the pain is very strong
- you’re vomiting a lot
- you already have another health condition
- the pain gets worse over time, doesn’t go away, or wakes you up from sleep
Also let the doctor know if you:
- have a fever
- have pain when you pee
- have trouble pooping or peeing
- have blood in your poop or pee
- think the belly pain is from an injury
- might be pregnant
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When Stomach Pain Is And Is Not An Emergency
Stomach pain can have many causes. Most of them aren’t serious, but some are, and you need to be able to recognize their warning signs.
If you rest, avoid certain foods, take medication, or use a heating pad, you may get relief from some kinds of pain. For others, you may need urgent medical care.
This article explains which symptoms mean you should head to the ER. It also lists symptoms that mean you should visit your healthcare provider. Finally, it provides some at-home solutions to try.
Verywell / JR Bee
How Common Are Stomachaches
Just about everybody will experience abdominal pain at one point or another. Most causes of abdominal pain are not serious and resolve spontaneously. A healthcare provider can usually readily diagnose and treat these conditions. However, abdominal pain can also be a sign of a serious illness, or even an emergency. Abdominal pain is responsible for some 5% of emergency room visits.
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Migraine And Upset Stomach
Migraine attacks multiple parts of the body at the same time. Most people report symptoms of headache, nausea, and queasy stomach during a migraine attack. The stomach reacts strongly to migraines. The digestive system slows down and takes longer than normal, which results in delayed emptying and undigested food. It is believed to be a vital cause of nausea and vomiting during a migraine episode.
Sometimes the digestive process is slower in the patients intestines too, which leads to constipation. Nausea can accompany the four stages of migraines, and the patients may continue to suffer from upset stomach even if the headache pain has subsided. The changes in the nervous system or the brain stem during a migraine attack are considered the most likely causes of stomach disturbances, particularly strong feelings of nausea.
Talk to your doctor about any unusual stomach disorder or pain you are going through, as prolonged nausea can leave you dehydrated and dizzy. He will investigate the causes of your condition and come up with the best treatment to improve your symptoms.
Abdominal Pain And Nausea Caused By Medications
Stomach pain and nausea could be the side effects of certain medications. For example, some drugs can irritate the stomach and cause increased gas, diarrhea, constipation, and make you feel that you want to throw up.
Dr. William Blahd says that some of the common medications that can cause nausea and stomach pain are:23
- Aspirin. The continual use of aspirin can erode your stomach lining and lead to ulcers. This can cause upper abdominal pain, burning sensation in your chest, and a possible upset stomach.
- Antibiotics. If you need to take antibiotics to treat serious bacterial infections, you might find that they make you nauseous with a sore stomach. Dr. Everett Stephens on eMedicineHealth says that antibiotics can also cause severe watery diarrhea, gas, and vomiting.24
- Opioid painkillers. Powerful painkillers can cause stomach cramps, nausea, and make you constipated.
- Iron supplements. If you take iron supplements to address the symptoms of anemia, you may suffer from digestive discomfort. This can include dull stomach pain, nausea, constipation, and a metallic taste in your mouth.
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When To See A Doctor
Most cases of abdominal pain are not serious, and symptoms resolve with basic home care, such as rest and hydration, within hours to days.
Acute or chronic abdominal pain, however, are often signs of conditions that do require medical attention and treatment.
Symptoms that require medical attention include:
- unexplained weight loss
- unexplained exhaustion
- changes or disturbances in bowel movements, such as chronic constipation or diarrhea, that do not resolve within a few hours or days
- minor rectal bleeding or blood in stool
- unusual vaginal discharge
- chronic pain that continues after taking over-the-counter medications or returns after stopping prescribed medication
- signs of urinary tract infection
Symptoms that require emergency care include:
- sudden, severe pain, especially if accompanied by a fever over 102°F
- severe pain that is very concentrated
- bloody or black stool that may be sticky
- uncontrollable vomiting, especially if vomit includes blood
- the abdomen is extremely painful and sensitive to the touch
- being unable to urinate
- pain that gets dramatically worse quickly
- pain in the chest, especially around the ribs, extending into the abdomen
- severe abdominal pain that improves with lying very still
Though rare, it is important for people experiencing these symptoms to seek emergency medical attention.
What Are Symptoms Of Stomach Pain
Symptoms of stomach pain depend on the cause.Pain may be dull or sharp, intermittent or constant, mild or severe. Pain may occur in any part of the abdomen, and may also radiate to other areas such as the back, flank, or shoulder.
Symptoms that may accompany stomach pain may include:
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Bad Eating Habits And Food Intolerance
Faulty food habits can result in constant nausea and burping. For example:
- Eating too fast leads to excessive swallowing of air during eating.
- Taking while eating.
- Over-consumption of foods that cause burping and nausea, such as alcoholoand caffeine.
- Habitual drinking of carbonated beverages.
Also, Some may have an intolerance to certain types of food. Food intolerance is a widespread condition. And it may present with a more severe type of reaction called .
Bad eating habits, food intolerance, and food allergy can cause constant nausea and burping.
The symptoms and differences between food intolerance and food allergy are illustrated in the table below.
|Difficulty digesting certain types of food .||An immune-mediated reaction to certain foods or food components.|
|Causes acute or chronic diarrhea, nausea, burping, and abdominal pain attacks.||Usually causes acute attacks related to the ingestion of offending food.|
|Intestinal symptoms: diarrhea, extensive gas, bloating, and abdominal pain, nausea, burping.||Intestinal symptoms are the same .|
|No extra-intestinal symptoms||Extraintestinal symptoms like rashes, urticaria, swollen lips, face, or severe life-threatening allergic reactions.|
|The severity of your symptoms is proportional to the amount you eat from the offending food.||Even trace amounts of the offending food can produce severe symptoms.|
Common offending foods:
Common offending foods:
- Some vegetables and fruits.