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Abdominal pain

Pain in the abdomen can vary from dull or burning to sharp and shooting. Abdominal pain may occur due to various diseases and conditions. The pain, which occurs in the area of the belly button and spreads to the lower right abdomen may be indicative of appendicitis, an inflammation of the appendix (appendix of the intestine). In the most severe cases surgery is required to remove the appendix.

In case of advanced appendicitis, the appendix can burst. If you experience severe pain or sensitiveness in the lower right abdomen, pain while walking, nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite, or fever, you should immediately consult a doctor.


  1. Overview
  2. Causes of pain in the abdomen
  3. Symptoms
  4. What can be done in case of abdominal pain
  5. What can a doctor do


Pain in the lower left part of the peritoneum can be a symptom of diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is the condition when the small spherical sacs (diverticula) that appear in the walls of the large intestine get infected and inflamed. Among other symptoms of diverticulitis there are: fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, cramping, and constipation. Diverticulitis treatment usually involves cleansing of the large intestine of inflammation and infections.


The doctor may prescribe antibiotics and / or analgesics, liquid diet and bed rest for a few days. In some cases, treatment of diverticulitis requires being in a hospital. In case of complications one may need surgery. The best way to prevent diverticulitis is a diet enriched with fiber. Dietary fiber improves proper digestion and relieves pressure in the large intestine. You should gradually increase the amount of fiber in your daily diet and drink plenty of fluids. Timely emptying of the bowel also helps prevent diverticulitis. The accumulation of waste by the digestive system causes an increase in pressure in the large intestine.

Acute pain in the upper right hypochondrium, worsening after eating, indicates a lesion of the gallbladder. Diseases of the gallbladder include stones and inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis). In case of complications, gallbladder lesion may also have other symptoms accompanied by pain in the peritoneum. These include: jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), a strong increase in temperature and chills. Sometimes people with stones in the gallbladder do not experience any symptoms.

When there is regularly appearing pain in the upper right hypochondrium, it is recommended to see a doctor. Pain attacks in the gallbladder can be dealt with in several ways, from simply waiting (observation of symptoms for some time, the absence of any treatment) before applying any medicines, or even surgery. It is possible to ease gallbladder disease symptoms by reducing the amount of fat in the diet.

Pain in the abdomen, which weakens after the bowel movement and is accompanied by diarrhea or constipation, may indicate of irritable bowel syndrome, which is a frequently encountered disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, the cause of which has not yet been established. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, the walls of the colon contract either too much or too little, sometimes too slow, and sometimes the other way around, too quickly. Symptoms of this disease include: bloating, gas, mucous stools, and constant desire to empty the bowel.

This syndrome cannot be dealt with using surgical methods or medicaments. However, the deterioration can be prevented by drinking large amounts of water, increasing the amount of fiber in the diet, reducing the amount of caffeine intake and increasing physical activity.

The sharp burning pain in the upper and middle parts of the abdomen (between the breastbone and the navel) may mean that there’s ulceration. An ulcer is a wound formed in tissue of the stomach or upper intestine. There are many causes of ulcers. Smoking, taking aspirin, ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be the reason.

Ulcer may also occur if the stomach cannot protect itself from the gastric juice. The bacterium Helicobacter pylori, living in the stomach – is also capable of causing an ulcer. Stress and spicy foods may not be the cause of ulcers. The heartburn itself cannot indicate the occurrence of the disease. Severe pain similar to heartburn can also be caused by a less serious disease like gastroesophageal reflux disease.

In women, abdominal pain may indicate any problems with the reproductive system. Pelvic pain occurring every month before menstruation, can suggest endometriosis, which is a state in which particles of uterus tissue move through the fallopian tubes and reach ovaries, renal pelvis, bladder, and other organs.

Soreness in the lower abdomen can mean pelvic inflammatory disease (infection of the uterus tissue of the fallopian tubes or ovaries). In women of childbearing age, ectopic pregnancy can also cause acute or sharp stabbing pain in the peritoneum, accompanied by vaginal bleeding, irregular menstrual cycles and pain spreading to the shoulders. Ovarian cysts and uterine fibroid can also cause abdominal pain in women.

Other cases of occurrence of abdominal pain include: urinary tract infections, food poisoning and allergies, hernia, kidney stones, and lactose intolerance.

2Causes of pain in the abdomen

In most cases, abdominal pain occurs due to common causes such as emotional disorders, overeating or flu. However, these pain symptoms can be caused by more serious diseases. Only the doctor can identify the cause clearly.


In case of inapparent pain, appearing occasionally for less than 4 weeks, you can try to deal with the problem on your own.

In case of pain appearing sporadically for more than 4 weeks, it is recommended to consult a doctor.

Urgent medical care is required in case of the following conditions:

  • the pain is accompanied by fever, jaundice, dark urine, severe nausea or vomiting, light pasty stools;
  • sudden sharp stabbing pain in the abdomen, accompanied by vaginal bleeding, irregular menstrual cycles and pain spreading to the shoulders;
  • severe persistent pain in the peritoneum after the injury;
  • a sudden very severe pain lasting more than 2 hours

Urgent hospitalization is required in case of occurrence of the following symptoms:

  • abdominal pain, accompanied by unexpected bright red rectal bleeding, or vomiting with blood or a coffee grounds like substance;
  • dizziness, light-headedness, rapid pulse, cold clammy skin.

4What can be done in case of abdominal pain

Weak pain not connected to the ulcer, diverticulitis, or gallbladder disease, can be treated at home. The body needs enough time to rest. Take simple analgesics or antispasmodics (Drotaverinum, Paracetamol) to ease the pain. Do not use aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Do not use laxatives, and do not give enemas.

5What can a doctor do

To determine the cause of the pain, your doctor may ask you the following question: “Describe the pain you feel” (spastic, sharp or dull), whether it is permanent or occurs periodically? Which place do you feel the pain in? At what point did it appear? How long does it last? When does the pain appear? (While menstruating? Is the pain worse after eating?). Additional examination may be required.

The method of treatment will depend on the causes of abdominal pain.