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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

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 giardiagiardia

  • 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

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 09, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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