Causes of Stomach Pains




There are more than 50 causes for stomach pain. Common causes can be due to food poisoning, intestinal disease or gallbladder stones or disease, infection or inflammation. Other causes include: appendicitis, kidney stones, gastritis or ulcer. Women with abdominal pain may have an ectopic pregnancy, an ovarian cyst, pelvic inflammatory disease, or another female organ disorder, such as a prolapsed uterus or bladder, or fibroids.  


Some patients who have pneumonia, a bladder infection, or even a heart attack may experience abdominal pain. Chronic causes include: pancreatitis or cancer of the pancreas, colitis (an inflammation of the large intestine (colon), or diverticulitis, an inflammation and infection of small lumps along the wall of the colon.


Many, if not most, episodes of abdominal pain do not require an emergency examination in the Hospital Emergency Department. When you experience mild stomach pain, call your doctor first and schedule an office visit.

Severe pain that lasts more than 30 minutes and does not get better. 

  • Severe stomach pain accompanied by multiple episodes of vomiting.
  • Pain accompanied by multiple episodes of diarrhea with or without vomiting with dizziness and signs of dehydration.
  • Rapid onset of moderate or severe abdominal pain with a temperature greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius).

Sudden stomach pain may indicate serious intra-abdominal disease, including a perforated (bleeding) ulcer or ruptured abdominal aneurysm. Despite the possibility that the pain is due to a less serious condition, such as gallstones (cholecystitis) or kidney stones (may present as abdominal or back pain). It’s often hard to tell the difference without imaging studies or lab tests.

 Common questions:

  • What does right side pain mean?
  • What does left side pain mean?
  • What does a stomach ache after eating mean?
  • What does a stomach ache with nausea and weight loss mean? 


  • Appendicitis severe pain (usually in the lower right part of the abdomen, but can start anywhere in the abdomen). In general, patients may also experience loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or fever. In the US, the recommended treatment is urgent surgical removal of the appendix. Delay in treatment can lead to perforation (rupture) of the appendix, which can be life-threatening, especially in the elderly. Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include severe abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding. 
  • Acute pancreatitis – Usually presents as pain in the upper middle part of the abdomen. The pain is usually intense and constant, and sometimes intense. It can also start as a mild pain that gets worse when you eat food. Nausea, swelling of the abdomen, fever, and rapid pulse often indicate this illness. 
  • Cholecystitis/gallbladder disease – Often initially diagnosed as gastritis or gastroesophageal disease, a gallbladder containing stones becomes painful after a meal containing oil or fat. There is also a condition where there are no gallstones, but the gallbladder is malfunctioning and causes intermittent pain, less often associated with an obviously fatty meal. (“acalculous cholecystitis”). 
  • Diverticulitis: pain in the lower left abdomen, change in bowel habits, possible fever and decreased appetite 
  • Gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, stomach cancer: middle stomach pain, nausea, weight loss


If you or a member of your family is describing the symptoms described above, it may indicate a medical emergency. Visiting the Emergency Department may be the best option. If you are not sure, please contact us or your regular medical provider. We are happy to briefly discuss when the Emergency Department is the best option and when non-emergencies can be seen in a doctor’s office or clinic. 

A US study stated, “50% of emergency department visits are NOT an emergency, and therefore patients could be treated in another setting.”

Albert Luongo, MS, PA, MBA, DMSc

Luongo Medical Care (LMC) 90 Morgan Street #203, Stamford, CT 06905, 203-461-4767

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