Abdominal pain

Abdominal pain may be due to many different things. Your stomach is sensitive to changes in eating habits, stress and other external factors. Abdominal pain may be caused by an upset stomach or food poisoning. In more unusual cases, other diseases of the gastrointestinal tract may be the problem.


The gastrointestinal tract of an adult is 30-40 square meters. This is the place where the food is digested to absorb nutrients and energy, then expelled as feces. 75 percent of the body’s immune system is located here – there are many functions that work together in the gastrointestinal tract. Sometimes this balance gets disturbed.


Abdominal pain often occurs in connection with something you have eaten or drunk. The stomach can react to coffee, alcohol, certain medicines and different types of food, but also smoking and stress. In case of stomach diseases or food poisoning, abdominal pain is usually in combination with other symptoms. Abdominal pain can also be caused by muscle pain or urinary tract infection.


In women, ovulation and menstrual pain can explain the problems, as well as conditions of the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. In men, the prostate may also cause pain. 


Less commonly, pain comes from diseases of the intestine or other organs. Sometimes diarrhea and cramps are the signs of infections.


Other explanations for abdominal pain may be:


  • Appendicitis- usually causes pain around the navel that shifts to the lower right abdomen, but sometimes the pain can be diffused.
  • Gallstones – produces intense pain that comes and goes in the upper abdomen on the right side behind the ribs
  • IBS – gas formation can cause pain in the upper abdomen on the right or left side 
  • Pancreatitis – causes severe pain in the upper abdomen on the right or left side or in center
  • Glandular fever – can cause pain in your abdomen on the right or left side due to enlarged liver or spleen
  • Gastric ulcer (gastritis) – causes pain in the center of upper abdomen 
  • Stomach ulcer – symptoms may vary, but many suffer from upper abdominal pain
  • Kidney stones – produces intense pain that comes and goes, on the one side of the abdomen or in the back
  • Inflammatory bowel disease – causes very severe pain throughout the abdomen.


Abdominal pain manifests itself in a variety of ways – it can be cramp-like, localized or colicky.  Often these are temporary symptoms that soon go away.


Common symptoms associated with abdominal pain:


  • Diarrhea or constipation 
  • Heartburn (acid reflux)
  • Gas in stomach
  • Nausea and vomiting

Prevention and protection

It is always good to have healthy living habits. You can try to create a better balance by:


  • Eating regularly and maintaining a healthy diet 
  • Avoiding stress
  • Exercising
  • Sleeping enough
  • Visiting the toilet regularly.


In pharmacies you can purchase non-prescription drugs that can relieve diarrhea, constipation, gas, and heartburn.


Because abdominal pain can be caused by many conditions, completely different treatment is required depending on the disease. If you can locate the pain to one side of the upper or lower abdomen, it can often provide important information for diagnosis.


A medical examination can involve different tests and investigations from dietary advice and prescription drugs to an examination of the intestines.
Non-prescription drugs can relieve diarrhea, constipation, gas, and heartburn. Appendicitis is usually treated surgically. Treatment of IBS and stress-related disorders may include talk-therapy.

When to consult a doctor

If you have abdominal pain or an upset stomach that doesn’t go away, you should get medical help. You should also consult a doctor if your stools have changed a lot.


Involuntary weight loss, sweating, blood in the urine or painful urination should be investigated. If the abdominal pain is severe or if you have bloody vomit or black or bloody stools, get emergency help.

How APPOTEK can help

In case of sudden or intense pain in the abdomen, you should seek urgent care. If this is a minor pain, APPOTEK can help you. A nurse, doctor or psychologist will make an individual assessment based on your symptoms. You may then be prescribed medicine or referred for further treatment. A physical examination is often required in case of upset stomach and abdominal pain. If your child has a problem, they will need to attend the consultation.


Valeria Chernikova, Neurologist, M.D.