What are stomach problems?

Conditions that affect digestion or cause pain or discomfort in the abdomen are often perceived and described as stomach problems, although the stomach may not always be involved. Most stomach problems are related to the digestive tract, although symptoms may also be due to conditions of the body wall, blood vessels, urinary tract, reproductive organs, or organs of the chest.

When pain is present, stomach problems may be due to the organs near the site of the pain, such as the stomach or gallbladder in the upper abdomen, or the appendix in the lower abdomen. Generalized stomach problems may be associated with diet, infection or inflammation. In women, stomach problems may be related to the menstrual cycle or to infection or other conditions of the reproductive organs.

Problems specific to the stomach and upper gastrointestinal tract include belching, heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), hiatal hernias (weakened area of the diaphragm that allows the stomach to protrude into the chest), gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), or peptic ulcers. Symptoms may be brought on by certain foods and may worsen when lying flat. Gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea, which may arise from the intestines, can also be related to food intake or may be related to intestinal infection or inflammation.

Pain associated with shingles, a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, may be attributed to stomach problems until the characteristic blistering rash becomes apparent. Abdominal trauma, poisoning, heart attack, pneumonia, pleurisy (inflammation of the lining around the lungs), reproductive system conditions, and stones or infections of the urinary tract can also cause symptoms that are perceived as stomach problems.

Stomach problems that are severe or that do not improve within a day or two can be symptoms of serious medical conditions. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for severe pain that comes on suddenly, an inability to have bowel movements, bloody stool, vomiting blood, abdominal rigidity, breathing difficulties, or pain in the neck, chest, shoulders, or between the shoulders. You should also seek immediate care if you have stomach problems and have cancer or might be pregnant and experience vaginal bleeding or abdominal cramps.

If your stomach problems are persistent or cause you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with stomach problems?

Stomach problems may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Stomach problems are often related to the digestive system, but may also be related to other body systems.... Read more about stomach problemssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes stomach problems?

Stomach problems often originate in the digestive tract, although they can be due to disorders of the circulatory system, urinary tract, reproductive system, respiratory system, nervous system, or body wall.... Read more about stomach problemscauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System


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