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Stomach pain

Stomach pain

There are a number of organs in the abdominal cavity, and they have many possible illnesses that can cause pain. Diagnosis can usually not be made without a doctor’s examination. Laboratory tests with abdominal pain may include for example blood count, liver and pancreatic enzymes and urinalysis. Barium contrast x-rays of the stomach and the intestines, abdominal ultrasound, CT and MRI scans and endoscopic procedures are used in diagnostics.

Pains in the digestive organs often have a link to eating. The closer to the top of the digestive tract the painful area is the faster the pain appears after eating.


Pains in the lower part of the esophagus may be caused by acid contents of the stomach rising up and irritating the esophagus. The most common predisposing factor is a reduced function of the sphincter esophagi inferior or a hernia.

Symptoms feel behind the sternum as a burning and heartburn, most often while lying down right after eating. The acidic stomach contents may be felt all the way up in the mouth.

A stomach endoscopy may be necessary for the diagnosis. Treatment includes lowering the level of stomach acid content via various mechanisms and, if necessary, eliminating diagnosed helicobacteria.

It is necessary to keep in an upright position after eating. Eat small meals several times during the day and avoid lying down after eating. Losing extra weight may be useful. Avoid eating in the evening as well as eating heavy meals.

Raise the headboard of your bed by about 6-8 inches. A carpenter can help to make that.


Illnesses of the stomach and the duodenum may cause symptoms in the upper abdominal area real soon after eating or when the stomach is empty. Symptoms may include pain, heartburn, acid reflux, and edema of the upper abdomen.

Some of those experiencing these upper abdomen symptoms may have an ulcer or a duodenal ulcer. Endoscopy will confirm the diagnosis. If helicobacteria is found, it must be treated. Other treatment forms include antacids.

For men, stress triples the risk of getting an ulcer. Stress does not seem to be as significant a factor in women; rather, the biggest risk factor for women is frequent use of pain medication.

Older patients rarely experience the pain symptoms that are typical with ulcers. The only symptoms may be fatigue and nausea. Correct diagnosis may be made when a person is examined by a doctor for low hemoglobin levels or black stools.

There may be other changes in the stomach’s mucous membrane, or tumors may be present. In cases of prolonged upper abdominal symptoms, an endoscopy is the proper way to confirm the diagnosis.

Self-treatment includes observing which foods cause irritation, and then eliminating them from your diet. In cases of ulcer or duodenal ulcer, several smaller meals daily are beneficial.

Antacids can be used for short periods with upper abdominal symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medicines are not recommended in this instance. If they are taken for some other illness, talk with your doctor to determine whether they truly are needed.

Smoking raises the risk of an ulcer two-fold, so it pays to quit.

Gall Bladder

The enzymes in the gall bladder participate in digestion, particularly digestion of fatty substances. Gallbladder-related pains usually do not come immediately after eating, but sometime later. Greasy food is most likely to cause them.

The pain feels on the right hand side of the upper abdomen. Pain may radiate to the scapula area in the back, or it can be felt in the heart region. Gall bladder pains may be accompanied by vomiting, stool may change to a pale color, and in some cases skin or the eyes may have a yellow tint.

Diagnosis is often confirmed via an ultrasound and laboratory tests. Radioisotope imaging, CT and MRI scans and special endoscopic and contrast medium x-ray procedures may be used in diagnostics.Treatment consists of diet, medication, and surgery.

Self-treatment includes eliminating greasy and irritating foods from your diet. Alcohol should be avoided.


The pancreas can also cause upper abdominal pain. Pain is usually extremely strong in pancreatitis, and it is most often felt in the middle of the upper abdomen. It often radiates in a belt-like fashion to the back.

Pancreatitis is often associated with to gall-bladder problem or use of alcohol. Diagnosis bases on the clinical picture and laboratory tests. An acute pancreatitis or suspicion thereof requires a hospital visit.

Self-treatment includes eliminating alcohol use—forever.

Kidney Stones

Kidney and urinary tract illnesses may cause pain most often in the back at the level of the lowest ribs and down. The pain may radiate downward, in the front to the groin area. If a stone causes blockage in cystolithiasis, the pain can be severe.

If kidney stones are suspected, a visit to a doctor is in order. Diagnosis can be clarified with urine tests and ultrasound, a contrast medium x-ray examination, CT and special endoscopic procedures.

Treatment includes drinking plenty of fluids and taking medication that eases cramping in the urinary tract. If this does not get rid of the stones, they may have to be crushed with ultrasound energy, or to be removed via surgery.

Stomach Flu

Different types of bacteria, viruses, and various substances such as unsuitable food or medication may cause acute stomach flu. In this case, illness develops quickly. Fever of short term may be present, accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea.

In most cases, the cause of the complaint is eliminated naturally. Self-treatment consists of drinking enough fluids and resting. A short fast may calm the situation, as it allows the bowels to rest while they are not digesting food.


The pain caused by appendicitis may begin around the navel and the upper abdomen. After a while, it may localize to the right side of the lower abdomen and get worse when coughing, for instance. The clinical picture varies, especially in children. Persons with appendicitis or suspicion thereof need to go to the emergency room and stay under observation.

Intestinal Inflammations

Various intestinal inflammations may cause prolonged pain symptoms. An inflammation of the end of the small intestine causes symptoms in the lower right side of the abdomen, and inflammation or irritation of the colon causes symptoms on the left side of the abdomen.

Gas Pains

Gas pains may cause stomach pains. There may be simultaneous diarrhea or constipation. Gas causes an expansion of the intestines, this causes increased activity in the intestines and muscle cramps that feel as pain.

Pain may be felt on the sides or below the diaphragm. It is sometimes mistaken for a heart condition. Self-diagnosis is usually possible, and the pain disappears simultaneously with its cause.

The cause may be excessive swallowing, gas formed by food containing a lot of carbohydrates or the slow elimination of gas due to constipation.

Self-treatment includes reducing dietary amount of food containing a lot of carbohydrates. These include cabbage, onion, beans, and bananas. Even though adding fiber to one’s diet is generally beneficial, here it is not recommended.

Get plenty of exercise and avoid tight clothes and belts. Stop using milk or use only sour milk products. Try charcoal tablets to bind the intestinal gas.


Constipation may cause unpleasant sensations on the lower left side of the abdomen. Pain may also be felt when passing stool.

Traditional laxatives should not be used too freely. On the other hand, preparations that increase the volume inside the intestines may be useful.

Self-treatment consists of eating a diet rich in fiber. If necessary, add OTC fiber products to your diet. Do not ignore the need to go; elimination of stool should be done at the same time every day, preferably in the morning. If bed rest is prescribed for any reason, the goal is to be able to get up and move as soon as possible.

In case of constipation, massage the lower abdomen carefully with a horizontal movement. This is easiest while lying down, bending the knees and hips, and relaxing the abdominal muscles.

Inguinal Hernias

An inguinal hernia may cause pain in the groin area. It forms when, due to a congenital weakness, a part of the stomach cavity pushes itself under the skin. In this case, a localized bulge is usually visible when the person stands upright, but it disappears when he lies down. When palpating with a finger, a hole for the hernia can often be felt.

Because hernias may sometimes constrict and cause partial necrosis of the intestine, treatment usually includes closing the space surgically. This prevents worse problems from developing.

Urinary Infections

Pain in the lower urinary tract and bladder is usually felt in the lower abdomen close to the pubic bone, in the groin or genital area. Symptoms such as increased need to urinate, burning, or difficulty urinating are often present.

Burning during urination may be caused by bladder, prostate or urinary tract problems. Pain felt at the beginning of urination is often connected to problems of the urinary tract and is caused by urine flowing through the painful area. An inflamed bladder contracting after it is emptied often causes pain at the end of urination.

The most common complaint is a urinary tract infection, which can be diagnosed from a urinary sample. Treatment usually consists of antibiotics. Other illnesses and substances such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and tolfenamic acid may cause burning during urination.

Self-treatment includes drinking plenty of fluids. This helps eliminate bacteria from the system. Substances that increase the acidity of urine inhibit the growth or bacteria. These include vitamin C, lingonberry juice, and buckthornberry juice.

Prevention includes emptying the bladder before and after intercourse. It is important after a bowel movement to wipe from front to back, so that the bacteria do not spread to the urinary tract.


Severe abdominal pain that gets worse.
Abdominal pain accompanied with fever.
Upper abdominal pain accompanied with bloody vomit.
Post alcohol-use pain deep in the abdomen that radiates in a belt-like fashion to the back.
Abdominal pain that worsens when coughing.
A bulge in the groin that is visible even when lying down, and is accompanied by pain.
Abdominal pain accompanied by yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes.

See a Doctor

Abdominal pain accompanied by bloody vomit, stool or urine.
Abdominal pain accompanied by color change of stool to pale or totally black.
Abdominal pain accompanied by urinary symptoms.
Prolonged abdominal pain in any area.
A bulge or lump in the abdominal area.
Pains in the upper abdominal area, accompanied by difficulty swallowing.

Stomach pain, more information: about esophagitis. pages about peptic ulcers.
MedlinePlus on gallbladder disease. pages about pancreatitis. pages on kidney stones. pages on stomach flu. pages about appendicitis. pages about gas and gas pains. pages on constipation.
Wikipedia on inguinal hernias.
eMedicineHealth pages about urinary tract infections.


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