Gastroenterology

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What is Causing Your Abdominal Pain?

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Abdominal pain symptoms, causes and treatments

By Katherine Solem 

Abdominal pain, or pain in your stomach or belly area, can be acute or chronic and occur for a number of reasons. Although some causes, such as gas, are not severe, abdominal pain can also be a symptom of more severe problems. Read more about the common causes of and treatments for abdominal pain.

Causes of Abdominal Pain

  • General causes:
    • Appendicitis: Inflammation of your appendix can cause severe abdominal pain.
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    • Constipation
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    • Gallstones: Although the gallbladder aids in digestion by storing and secreting bile as needed, gallstones, or hard particles of bile, can form and lead to stomach pain.
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    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): This chronic heartburn is caused by food or liquid traveling in the wrong direction – from your stomach up to your esophagus. Although esophagus irritation most commonly leads to heartburn, it can also cause abdominal pain.
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    • Food allergies: While allergies can cause a variety of symptoms, some food allergies can cause abdominal pain.
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    • Food poisoning: Eating contaminated food can cause stomach pain. Undercooked meats or eggs or unclean packing or food preparation conditions increase the likelihood of contracting bacteria that can lead to food poisoning.
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    • Hernia: Although the cause of hernias is not well understood, stomach pain is a common symptom of hernias.
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    • Indigestion: This stomach pain often also includes feelings of bloating or nausea.
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    • Influenza: The common flu often causes stomach pain or discomfort in addition to other common flu symptoms such as a fever.
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    • Kidney stones: Kidney stones are a build-up of hard deposits inside your kidneys. Although they don’t usually cause any long-term problems, passing kidney stones can be quite painful; taking over the counter medications can help ease the pain involved.
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    • Lactose intolerance: Stomach pain is a common reaction to consuming lactose, a protein found in milk and other dairy products, if you are lactose intolerant.
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    • Menstrual cramps
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    • Urinary tract infection (UTI): Although this infection occurs in the urinary tract, infection in the bladder is characterized by lower abdominal pain.
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  • Diseases:
    • Crohn’s diseaseThis form of inflammatory bowel disease involves chronic gastrointestinal tract inflammation that can cause stomach pain.
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    • Endometriosis: This disease is characterized by the uterine lining (endometrium) growing outside your uterus. This can be very painful, and can also lead to infertility.
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    • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): This infection in the female reproductive organs is most often caused by sexually transmitted bacteria leading to severe lower abdomen pain along with heavy vaginal discharge, irregular menstrual bleeding and pain during urination.
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    • Peptic Ulcers: These ulcers, or lesions, occur throughout the lining of the digestive tract and are most often caused by bacteria.
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Symptoms Associated with Abdominal Pain

Although abdominal pain is a symptom in and of itself, depending on the cause, other symptoms may also occur.

  • Nausea: Certain causes of abdominal pain, including food allergies and indigestion, can also cause feelings of nausea.
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  • Back pain: Due to the close proximity of the abdomen to the back, back pain can often occur in addition to abdominal pain.
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  • Fever: For those causes due to infection, a fever can often accompany the abdominal pain.
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