What is upper abdominal pain?
Pain in the upper abdomen can often be attributed to temporary problems such as indigestion or gas. Persistent or severe upper abdominal pain may be related to other digestive tract conditions or to conditions of the body wall, blood vessels, kidneys, heart, or lungs.
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Pain originating in the stomach or esophagus is often felt in the upper abdomen and can be due to heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or hiatal hernia (weakening in the diaphragm that allows the stomach to protrude into the chest). You may also have gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) or ulcers. Symptoms may be brought on by certain foods and may worsen when lying flat.
Pain in the upper abdomen may originate in the gallbladder or liver and may be due to gall stones, hepatitis, or liver abscess. More-generalized pain may originate in the intestines and may be related to inflammatory conditions or infections.
Although pain from the pancreas or kidneys tends to occur in the back, it can also occur in the sides or in the abdomen. Similarly, pain from heart attacks and lung problems such as pneumonia and pleurisy (inflammation of the lining around the lungs) typically occurs in the chest but may also be felt in the upper abdomen.
Upper abdominal pain that does not resolve within a day or two or that is severe may be a symptom of a serious medical condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for severe pain that comes on suddenly, the inability to have bowel movements, bloody stool, vomiting blood, abdominal rigidity, breathing difficulties, or pain in the neck, chest, shoulders, or between the shoulders.
If your upper abdominal pain is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.
What other symptoms might occur with upper abdominal pain?
Upper abdominal pain may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Upper abdominal pain is often related to the digestive tract, and may accompany other digestive tract symptoms. Symptoms related to other body systems may also occur and sometimes upper abdominal pain is not related to a condition of the digestive tract.
What causes upper abdominal pain?
Upper abdominal pain often originates in the digestive tract, although it can also be due to disorders of the circulatory system, kidneys, respiratory system, or body wall.
Digestive tract causes of upper abdominal painUpper abdominal pain may be caused by conditions of the digestive tract including:
- Bacterial, parasitic or viral infection of t... Read more about upper abdominal paincauses