Condition: Stomach Pain

Stomach pain, or abdominal pain, is a common problem with many causes, ranging from mild to severe, and acute to chronic.

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What is stomach pain?

Stomach pain is a common problem with many causes. In addition to referring to pain specific to the stomach organ itself, the term ‘stomach pain’ is often used to describe any pain or discomfort in the general abdominal area, commonly called the tummy.

So, when we talk about stomach pain, we may be referring to any organ and area in the abdomen, including the stomach, bowels, pancreas, spleen, reproductive organs and so on. Stomach pain also covers a wide range of issues, from normal period pains and trapped wind to more serious problems like kidney stones and appendicitis.

What are the symptoms of stomach pain?

Stomach ache, or abdominal pain, can take many forms and can be felt in different areas all across your tummy. The pain may be:

  • Mild or severe

  • Dull or sharp

  • Burning or achy

  • Crampy or gripey

  • Intermittent or constant

  • In one spot or all over

Depending on what’s causing your tummy ache, you may also have other symptoms like:

  • Lots of wind (farting)

  • Bloating

  • Heartburn

  • Nausea (feeling sick)

  • Difficulty pooing

  • Vomiting

  • Loose, watery poo

  • Pain when peeing

  • A fever

What causes stomach pain?

Most causes of abdominal pain are only temporary and are not considered to be serious, but some may require medical treatment or monitoring.

Some of the most common causes of stomach pain include:

  • Indigestion

  • Gas and bloating

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhoea

  • Food allergies and intolerances

  • Food poisoning

  • Menstrual cramps

  • Ovulation pain

  • Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu)

  • Acid reflux

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)

Some of the more serious and less common causes of stomach pain are:

How is stomach pain diagnosed?

Although not the only factor in diagnosing the cause of stomach pain, the location of your discomfort can give your consultant some clues.

For example, if the pain is in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, the pain could be caused by a problem with your liver, gall bladder, bile ducts or kidney.

Each person's experience of stomach pain is different, so your consultant will ask questions about your pain, such as where it is, what it feels like, how often and when it occurs, how long you’ve had it for, if it moves or stays in one area, and if anything makes it better or worse.

Once they have gathered information about your medical history and symptoms, your consultant will do a physical examination of your abdomen, gently pressing into your tummy with their hands.

They may also run some tests including imaging tests like an X-ray, MRI scan or ultrasound, and some blood tests to help them make an accurate diagnosis. Investigative procedures such as endoscopy or colonoscopy may also be needed.

How can stomach pain be treated?

Some conditions that cause stomach pain can be remedied with self-care at home, while others may require medical treatment.

Treatment for stomach pain could include:

  • Dietary changes - avoiding or cutting out certain foods

  • Increasing hydration

  • Heat therapy, such as a warm bath or hot water bottle

  • Over-the-counter medications

  • Prescription medications

  • Surgery


The type of treatment you will need depends on the cause of your stomach pain, which your consultant will be able to confirm. Once you have a diagnosis, your specialist will be able to offer you the best available treatments.

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Jul 2024


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