Abdominal Pain

Find a symptom by its first letter

Definition

Everyone experiences abdominal pain from time to time. Other terms used to describe abdominal pain are stomachache, tummy ache, gut ache and bellyache. Abdominal pain can be mild or severe. It may be continuous or come and go. Abdominal pain can be short-lived (acute) or occur over weeks and months (chronic).

Call your doctor right away if you have abdominal pain so severe that you can’t move without causing more pain, or you can’t sit still or find a comfortable position. Also, seek immediate medical help if pain is accompanied by other worrisome signs and symptoms, such as fever, bloody diarrhea or severe tenderness in your abdomen.

Causes

Abdominal pain has many potential causes. Many causes, such as gas pains or a pulled muscle, aren’t serious, while other conditions require timely medical attention.

Often, the location of the abdominal pain can provide an important clue as to its cause. At other times, abdominal pain may occur in unexpected patterns, and its cause is less obvious. Nonetheless, it is helpful to think about abdominal pain in terms of its location.

The following conditions may cause generalized abdominal pain, which is abdominal pain that isn’t focused in one specific area:

  • Appendicitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (high levels of ketones in the blood)
  • Diverticulitis
  • Injury
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Intussusception (in children)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Lead poisoning
  • Mesenteric lymphadenitis (swollen lymph nodes in the folds of membrane that hold the abdominal organs in place)
  • Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) (infection of the female reproductive organs)
  • Peritonitis (infection of the abdominal lining)
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Strained or pulled abdominal muscle
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Uremia (buildup of waste products in your blood)
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Viral gastroenteritis (stomach inflammation)

The following conditions often cause lower abdominal pain, sometimes described as pelvic pain:

  • Appendicitis
  • Cystitis (bladder inflammation)
  • Diverticulitis
  • Problems with the cervix, such as a cervical infection, inflamed cervix or growths on the cervix
  • Endometriosis
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Mittelschmerz (pain associated with ovulation)
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) (infection of the female reproductive organs)
  • Salpingitis (inflammation of the fallopian tubes)

The following conditions often cause upper abdominal pain:

  • Angina (reduced blood flow to the heart)
  • Appendicitis
  • Cholangitis (bile duct inflammation)
  • Cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation)
  • Duodenitis (inflammation of the initial portion of the small intestine)
  • Hepatitis
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Heart attack
  • Hepatitis (liver inflammation)
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Mesenteric ischemia (decreased blood flow to the intestines)
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Nonulcer stomach pain
  • Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue around the heart)
  • Pleurisy (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the lungs)
  • Pneumonia
  • Pneumothorax (lung collapse caused by air that leaks inside chest wall)
  • Pyloric stenosis (in infants)
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm

The following conditions often cause pain in the center of the abdomen:

  • Appendicitis
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (high levels of ketones in the blood)
  • Injury
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Mesenteric thrombosis (blood clot in a vein carrying blood away from your intestines)
  • Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm
  • Uremia (buildup of waste products in your blood)

The following conditions often cause lower left abdominal pain:

  • Appendicitis
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Problems with the cervix, such as a cervical infection, inflamed cervix or growths on the cervix
  • Endometriosis
  • Inguinal hernia
  • Injury
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Kidney infection
  • Kidney stones
  • Mittelschmerz (pain associated with ovulation)
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Seminal vesiculitis (inflammation of the seminal vesicles)
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm
  • Torn colon
  • Tuboovarian abscess (pus-filled pocket involving a fallopian tube and an ovary)
  • Ulcerative colitis

The following conditions often cause upper left abdominal pain:

  • Angina (reduced blood flow to the heart)
  • Cancer
  • Diverticulitis
  • Empyema (infection of the lining around the lungs)
  • Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly) (splenomegaly)
  • Fecal impaction (hardened stool that can’t be eliminated)
  • Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining)
  • Heart attack
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Injury
  • Kidney infection
  • Kidney stones
  • Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary infarction (loss of blood flow to the lungs)
  • Pyloric stenosis (in infants)
  • Ruptured spleen
  • Shingles
  • Spleen infection
  • Splenic abscess (pus-filled pocket in the spleen)
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm
  • Torn colon

The following conditions often cause lower right abdominal pain:

  • Appendicitis
  • Cancer
  • Cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation)
  • Diverticulitis
  • Problems with the cervix, such as a cervical infection, inflamed cervix or growths on the cervix
  • Endometriosis
  • Inguinal hernia
  • Injury
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Kidney infection
  • Kidney stones
  • Mittelschmerz (pain associated with ovulation)
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Salpingitis (inflammation of the fallopian tubes)
  • Seminal vesiculitis (inflammation of the seminal vesicles)
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm
  • Tuboovarian abscess (pus-filled pocket involving a fallopian tube and an ovary)
  • Viral gastroenteritis (stomach inflammation)

The following conditions often cause upper right abdominal pain:

  • Appendicitis
  • Cholangitis (bile duct inflammation)
  • Diverticulitis
  • Fecal impaction (hardened stool that can’t be eliminated)
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Hepatitis
  • Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining)
  • Hepatitis (liver inflammation)
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Injury
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Kidney cancer
  • Kidney infection
  • Kidney stones
  • Liver abscess (pus-filled pocket in the liver)
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver hemangioma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue around the heart)
  • Pleurisy (inflammation of the membrane surrounding your lungs)
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary infarction (loss of blood flow to the lungs)
  • Pyloric stenosis (in infants)
  • Shingles
  • Stomach cancer

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