Abdominal Pain Causes

Topic Overview

Abdominal pain can have many causes. Often the specific symptoms help determine the cause of the pain.

Causes of abdominal pain
Cause Most common symptoms

Gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation, gallbladder disease, bowel obstruction, pancreatitis, appendicitis, gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or diverticulitis

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Blood in stool or in vomit

Food poisoning

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps

Urinary problems, such as a kidney stone, kidney disease, kidney infection, or bladder infection

  • Burning when urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Flank pain or lower pelvic pain
  • Need to urinate small amounts frequently
  • Unable to urinate
  • Fever

Dietary, such as lactose intolerance or food allergy

  • Chronic, generalized abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea (nonbloody)
  • Gas and bloating

Inflammatory disease, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis

  • Diarrhea (may be bloody)
  • Fever (may come and go)
  • Generalized abdominal pain (frequently awakens you at night)
  • Weight loss

Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Chronic or intermittent abdominal pain with either diarrhea or constipation (pain does not awaken you at night)
  • Increases with stress
  • No weight loss

Ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage

  • Abdominal pain (may be severe)
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Positive risk factors for pregnancy

Infection with a parasite, such as giardia

  • Diarrhea (nonbloody)
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Gas and bloating
  • Weight loss

Female reproductive problems, such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Fever
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Pain with intercourse

Sickle cell disease

  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain in the arms and legs, the chest, or the spinal bones

Blood vessel problems, such as an aortic aneurysm or peripheral arterial disease

  • Sudden abdominal pain or back pain
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Signs of shock

Hernias, such as hiatal, inguinal, or umbilical

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bulging area in the belly or groin

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Last Revised January 9, 2013

Last Revised: January 9, 2013

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