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Abdominal pain adult

Sudden severe abdominal pain

Sudden agonising pain in a particular area of your abdomen may be a sign of a serious problem. It could rapidly get worse without treatment.


Serious causes of sudden severe abdominal pain include:

  • appendicitis – the swelling of the appendix means your appendix will need to be removed
  • a bleeding or perforated stomach ulcer
  • acute cholecystitis – inflammation of the gallbladder, which may need to be removed
  • kidney stones – small stones may be passed out in your urine, but larger stones may block the kidney tubes, and you'll need to go to hospital to have them broken up
  • diverticulitis – inflammation of the small pouches in the bowel that sometimes requires treatment with antibiotics in hospital

If your GP suspects you have one of these conditions, they may refer you to hospital immediately. Sudden and severe pain in your abdomen can also sometimes be caused by an infection of the stomach and bowel (gastroenteritis). It may also be caused by a pulled muscle in your abdomen or by an injury.

Causes of abdominal pain may be:

- Greasy food

- Some medicines

- Appendicitis

- Food poison

- Bladder infection

- Viral infection (stomach flu)

- Constipation

- Stress

- Menstruation

- Bilestones

Long-term or recurring abdominal pain

See your GP if you or your child have persistent or repeated abdominal pain. The cause is often not serious and can be managed.

Possible causes in adults include:

  • irritable bowel syndrome  – the pain is often relieved when you go to the toilet
  • inflammatory bowel disease – for example Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and endometriosis
  • a urinary tract infection that keeps returning – you'll usually also have a burning sensation when you urinate
  • constipation
  • period pain – painful muscle cramps in women that are linked to the menstrual cycle
  • stomach ulcer
  • heartburn and acid reflux
  • gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining)

Possible causes in children include:

  • constipation
  • a urinary tract infection that keeps returning
  • heartburn and acid reflux
  • abdominal migraines – recurrent episodes of abdominal pain with no identifiable cause

If you have abdominal pain, drink a lot of water or tea (2 liters a day). Eat small portions regularly. Do some exercise (walking, cycling). Eat fiber-rich food, avoid eating greasy food, alcohol, carbonated drinks and coffee.

Call the GP immediately if:

  • the pain starts suddenly or unexpectedly

If your GP is closed, phone 112.

  • you have severe abdominal pain, especially if it's concentrated in one area
  • When you cannot pee, when your poop is black and when there is blood in your poop.

Source: NHSinform

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