Abdominal pain is pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and groin. This is often referred to as the stomach region or belly.
Almost everyone has pain in the abdomen at one time or another. Most of the time, it is not caused by a serious medical problem.
How bad your pain is does not always reflect the seriousness of the condition causing the pain.
For example, you might feel severe abdominal pain if you have gas or stomach cramps due to a viral gastroenteritis.
Sometimes, life-threatening conditions such as colon cancer or early appendicitis may only cause mild pain or no pain.
Other ways of describing pain in your abdomen include:
- Pain may be generalized, meaning that you feel it in more than half of your belly. This is more typical for a stomach virus, indigestion, or gas. If the pain becomes more severe, it may be caused by a blockage of the intestines.
- Pain that is localized is found in only one area of your belly. This type of pain is more likely to be a sign of a problem in an organ, such as the appendix, gallbladder, or stomach.
- Cramp-like pain is usually not serious, and is more likely to be due to gas and bloating. It is often followed by diarrhea. More worrisome signs include pain that occurs more often, lasts than 24 hours, or occurs with a fever.
- Colicky pain is pain that comes in waves. It usually starts and ends suddenly, and is often severe. Kidney stones and gallstones are common causes of this type of belly pain.
Many different conditions can cause abdominal pain. The key is to know when you need to get immediate medical care. Sometimes you may only need to call a doctor if your symptoms continue.
Less serious causes of abdominal pain include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Food allergies or intolerance (such as lactose intolerance)
- Food poisoning
- Stomach flu
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases