Everyone experiences abdominal pain from time to time. Other terms used to describe abdominal pain are stomachache, tummy ache, gut ache and bellyache. Abdominal pain can be mild or severe. It may be continuous or come and go. Abdominal pain can be short-lived (acute) or occur over weeks, months or years (chronic).
Call your doctor right away if you have abdominal pain so severe that you can't move without causing more pain, or you can't sit still or find a comfortable position.
Seek immediate medical help if pain is accompanied by other worrisome signs and symptoms, including:
- Severe pain
- Bloody stools
- Persistent nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
- Skin that appears yellow
- Severe tenderness when you touch your abdomen
- Swelling of the abdomen
Call 911 or emergency medical assistance
Seek help if your abdominal pain is severe and is associated with:
- Trauma, such as an accident or injury
- Pressure or pain in your chest
Seek immediate medical attention
Have someone drive you to urgent care or the emergency room if:
- Pain is so severe that you can't sit still or need to curl into a ball to find relief
- Pain is accompanied by bloody stools, persistent nausea and vomiting, skin that appears yellow, severe tenderness when you touch your abdomen, or swelling of the abdomen
Schedule a doctor's visit
Make an appointment with your doctor if your abdominal pain worries you or lasts more than a few days.
In the meantime, find ways to ease your pain. For instance, eat smaller meals if your pain is accompanied by indigestion. Avoid taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) because these can cause stomach irritation that may worsen abdominal pain.
June 21, 2013
- Abdominal pain syndrome. American College of Gastroenterology. http://patients.gi.org/topics/abdominal-pain/. Accessed April 10, 2013.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2013: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-08373-7..00002-9&isbn=978-0-323-08373-7&about=true&uniqId=343863096-23. Accessed April 10, 2013.
- Wilkinson JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 14, 2013.