What Causes Stomach Pain

Stomach pain, also known as abdominal pain, is a common symptom that can be caused by a variety of things. It can be mild or severe, sharp or dull, and constant or intermittent. Stomach pain can be located in any part of the abdomen, from the chest to the groin.

Some of the most common causes of stomach pain include:

  • Indigestion: Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is a condition that causes heartburn, bloating, and stomach pain. It is often caused by eating too much or too quickly, eating fatty or spicy foods, or drinking alcohol.
  • Gas: Gas, also known as flatulence, is a buildup of air in the digestive tract. It can cause bloating, stomach pain, and belching. Gas is often caused by eating foods that are high in fiber, such as beans, broccoli, and cabbage.
  • Constipation: Constipation is a condition in which bowel movements are infrequent or hard to pass. It can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and feeling full. Constipation is often caused by not eating enough fiber, not drinking enough fluids, or not getting enough exercise.
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea is a condition in which bowel movements are loose and watery. It can cause abdominal pain, cramping, and bloating. Diarrhea is often caused by eating contaminated food or by a virus or bacteria.
  • Food poisoning: Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating contaminated food. It can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. Food poisoning is often caused by eating food that has been left out at room temperature for too long, or food that has been cooked incorrectly.
  • Appendicitis: Appendicitis is a condition in which the appendix, a small, finger-shaped organ in the abdomen, becomes inflamed. Appendicitis can cause severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Appendicitis is a medical emergency and requires surgery to remove the appendix.
  • Gallstones: Gallstones are small, hard deposits that form in the gallbladder. They can cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Gallstones are often caused by a diet high in fat.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): IBD is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. It can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue. IBD is not fully understood, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
  • Cancer: Cancer of the stomach, colon, or other parts of the digestive tract can cause abdominal pain. Cancer is often a late symptom of these cancers, so it is important to see a doctor if you have any unexplained abdominal pain.

If you have stomach pain, it is important to see a doctor to determine the cause. The doctor will ask you about your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle. The doctor may also perform a physical exam and order tests, such as blood tests, imaging tests, or stool tests.

The treatment for stomach pain will depend on the underlying cause. For example, indigestion may be treated with over-the-counter medications, such as Tums or Rolaids. Constipation may be treated with dietary changes, such as increasing fiber intake, or with medications, such as laxatives. Diarrhea may be treated with fluids, electrolytes, and medications, such as antidiarrheals. Food poisoning may be treated with fluids, electrolytes, and medications, such as antibiotics. Appendicitis requires surgery to remove the appendix. Gallstones may be treated with surgery to remove the gallbladder, or with medications to dissolve the gallstones. IBD is often treated with medications, such as corticosteroids or immunomodulators. Cancer of the stomach, colon, or other parts of the digestive tract may be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

It is important to seek medical attention if you have stomach pain that is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or blood in the stool.

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