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Acute Care Advisor 2017.1 Copyright © 2017 RelayHealth, a division of McKesson Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.

What is abdominal pain?


Abdominal pain is aching or cramping in your belly. The abdomen, or belly, is the area between the chest and the pelvis. The pain can range from mild discomfort to cramping or severe pain.


Many things can cause abdominal pain and it can sometimes be hard to know the exact cause of the pain. Some common causes of pain in the abdomen are:

  • Indigestion or heartburn

  • Infections, such as food poisoning or stomach flu

  • Food allergy

  • Stress and anxiety

  • Gastritis (an irritation of the stomach lining) or ulcers

  • Constipation

  • Menstruation

  • Hernia

  • Urinary tract infection

  • Diseases of the intestine

  • Appendicitis

  • Pancreatitis or liver problems

  • Disease or infection in the uterus

  • Aortic dissection (tearing of the part of the aorta that is in your belly)

  • Tumor or growth

  • Fluid collecting in the abdomen


Sometimes abdominal pain is caused by a problem in another part of the body, such as the lungs or the heart. For example, a heart attack can cause upper abdominal pain.