Abdominal Pain (Stomach Pain), Short-term

Just about everyone has had a "stomachache" at one time or another. But sudden severe abdominal pain (stomach pain), also called acute pain, shouldn't be ignored. It often indicates a serious problem. Follow this chart for more information about acute abdominal pain. Or find more information about abdominal pain that has lasted for more than 3 days.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Do you have abdominal pain that is severe; constant and dull; severe and knife-like; or severe cramping?

  • Are you pregnant, or do you believe you might be pregnant?

  • Is your stomach very tender to touch? Does it hurt when you are driving and hit a bump or a pothole in the road? Do you have bloody diarrhea or stools that are black or tarry? Are you vomiting blood? Do you have a fever, in addition to your abdominal pain?

  • Does the pain start in your upper middle or upper right abdomen and shift to your back, and does it occur or worsen when you eat fatty or greasy food?

  • Do you have a sudden sharp pain that starts in the back near the ribs and moves down toward the groin?

  • Is your pain in the lower right abdomen, and do you have blood or mucus in your stools?

  • Do you have a mild ache or burning pain in the upper abdomen, or cramping pain that comes and goes?

  • Do you have watery diarrhea, fever, muscle aches, chills, nausea, or vomiting?

  • Has it been a few days or longer since you have had a bowel movement and do you have bloating or distension of your abdomen? Do you have to strain when you have a bowel movement?

  • Do you have pain or a burning sensation in the upper abdomen that is either relieved or gets worse when you eat?

  • Are you a woman who has a constant pain in the lower abdomen along with a vaginal discharge?

  • Do you have a mild pain, discomfort, or a feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen along with a burning sensation when you urinate?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • Diagnosis

    This will depend on the intensity and location of pain. RADIATION ENTERITIS is a possibility due to exposure to radiation.


    Self Care

    See you doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    In pregnant women, lower abdominal or pelvic pain along with vaginal bleeding may be a sign of a serious condition, such as ECTOPIC PREGNANCY or MISCARRIAGE.


    Self Care

    Call your doctor right away or go to the emergency room if you are less than 20 weeks pregnant. Go to the labor and delivery department if you are over 20 weeks pregnant.


  • Diagnosis

    These may be signs of a serious problem, such as:


    Self Care

    Call your doctor right away or go the hospital.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have GALLSTONES, an INFECTION, or INFLAMMATION of the gallbladder.


    Self Care

    See your doctor right away.


  • Diagnosis

    Your pain may be from a KIDNEY STONE or KIDNEY TUMOR. If you have a fever, you may have a KIDNEY or BLADDER INFECTION.


    Self Care

    Call your doctor right away or go the hospital.


  • Diagnosis

    These may be signs of ULCERATIVE COLITIS or CROHN’S DISEASE. These are inflammatory diseases of the colon or large intestine.


    Self Care

    See your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    This may be GASTRITIS, GASTROESOPHAGEAL REFLUX DISEASE (GERD), OR PEPTIC ULCER DISEASE.


    Self Care

    Keep a food diary to evaluate for patterns or triggers. Take over-the-counter antacids. See your doctor if you are taking antacids more days than not in an average week.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have GASTROENTERITIS, commonly called the stomach flu. Severe cases of gastroenteritis can lead to dehydration in infants and young children.


    Self Care

    Take over-the-counter fever-reducing medicines. (Don’t give children aspirin.) Drink water throughout the day/night. Call your doctor if vomiting and diarrhea persist for more than 2 days, or if you see any blood or mucus in the diarrhea. Call your doctor if you experience DEHYDRATION with such symptoms as lethargy, dry mouth, and/or decreased urination.


  • Diagnosis

    CONSTIPATION may be the source of your discomfort. Occasionally a child will hold a bowel movement because of pain from a HEMORRHOID, an ANAL FISSURE, or during potty training.


    Self Care

    Be sure to include lots of FIBER in your diet and drink enough fluids. Bulk-forming laxatives can also help. Many laxatives are available to treat constipation in children. Your doctor can recommend one that is appropriate for your child. See your doctor if the pain or constipation continues.


  • Diagnosis

    This may be from GASTRITIS, an irritation of the stomach, or from an ULCER.


    Self Care

    Try taking an over-the-counter antacid on a regular basis. See your doctor if an antacid doesn’t help, if the pain comes back quickly after taking one, or if you are taking an antacid most days of an average week.


  • Diagnosis

    A dull, constant pain accompanied by a vaginal discharge may be a sign of PELVIC INFLAMATORY DISEASE (PID), an infection around your ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes.


    Self Care

    This condition requires an antibiotic. See your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    CYSTITIS, an infection of the urinary tract, can be painful and cause abdominal discomfort.


    Self Care

    See your doctor promptly.


  • Self Care

    If the pain doesn’t stop within a few hours, call your doctor. For more information, please talk to your doctor. If you think your problem is serious, call right away.


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