What Causes Upper Abdominal Pain?


Upper abdominal pain can be a symptom of a wide variety of health problems. Other symptoms and triggers should be considered to determine the cause and whether it warrants a visit to the doctor.

There are several organs in the upper abdomen. Knowing which organ or part of the body is affected can help you and your doctor determine the cause and the type of treatment you need.


Gastrointestinal tract

Your gastrointestinal tract runs from your mouth to your anus and contains the organs that make up your digestive system . Many problems in the gastrointestinal tract can cause pain in the upper abdomen.


Indigestion , also known as indigestion, is a common condition. This causes symptoms such as:

  • Stomach pain or bloating
  • Acidity
  • Nausea
  • Threw up
  • Feeling full early while eating
  • Feeling full after eating
  • Burning sensation in the esophagus or stomach.
  • Excess gas

Indigestion is usually caused by overeating, eating too fast, or eating spicy, fatty, or greasy foods. It can also happen if you lie down shortly after eating because it can make digestion difficult.

Treatments for indigestion range from lifestyle changes, such as avoiding food triggers and reducing caffeine or alcohol, to over-the-counter or prescription medications, such as antacids and stomach acid medications.

GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)

GERD is a condition that occurs when acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus. This irritates the lining of the esophagus and can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Acidity
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty to swallow
  • Threw up
  • Sensation of a lump in the throat.
  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma exacerbation

Treatment options for GERD include:

  • Lifestyle changes: weight loss, avoiding trigger foods, avoiding large meals, and quitting smoking.
  • Medications: Over -the-counter antacids or medications that block or suppress stomach acid production.
  • Surgery: A procedure known as a Nissen fundoplication to strengthen the body's anti-reflux barrier.


Heartburn is not a disease in itself, but a symptom of another disease. Health problems like acid reflux and GERD are believed to be the main causes of heartburn.

Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest that is usually felt behind the breastbone. The pain can also spread to the throat and neck, and there may be a sour and sour taste in the back of the throat.

Heartburn can be caused by certain habits, such as:

  • Abundant food
  • Eat before bed
  • Experiencing high levels of stress
  • Overweight
  • Of smoking
  • Wear tight clothing
  • Eat certain citrus and tomato-based foods.
  • Drink alcoholic, caffeinated, or carbonated beverages.

Heartburn is rarely serious and is most often treated at home with over-the-counter medications and lifestyle changes. If someone suffers from heartburn on a chronic basis, it is most likely due to a medical condition that requires different treatment.

Blind loop syndrome

Blind loop syndrome occurs when the food you eat does not fit into your normal digestive tract. It is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestine, which is so great that food must avoid it.

Blind loop syndrome is usually caused by complications after abdominal surgery, such as weight loss surgery. It can also be caused by a peptic ulcer, Crohn's disease, or diverticulitis.

In addition to abdominal pain, some common symptoms of blind loop syndrome include:

  • Hot
  • Joint pain
  • Acne
  • Weightloss

In some cases, the body does not receive all the nutrients it needs. Standard treatments for blind loop syndrome include antibiotics, corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, and corrective surgery.

Acute and chronic pain

Acute pain occurs suddenly and does not last long. This can take up to three months. On the other hand, chronic pain lasts for more than six months and tends to persist long after the condition has healed.


The gallbladder is an organ located on the right side of the abdomen below the liver. It is small and pear-shaped. It contains a digestive fluid known as bile. There are several types of gallbladder problems that can cause pain in the upper abdomen.


When the digestive fluid in the gallbladder hardens, gallstones form. These gallstones can be the size of a golf ball or the size of a grain of sand and are composed primarily of cholesterol, calcium salts, bilirubin, and small amounts of protein.

Many people with gallstones have no symptoms and the body passes them on its own. If symptoms occur when a person has gallstones, they will likely need surgery to remove them.

Symptoms associated with gallstones include:

  • Sudden and severe pain in the upper right corner of the abdomen or in the center of the abdomen below the breastbone.
  • Back pain between the shoulder blades or in the right shoulder.
  • Nausea or vomiting

If the body does not pass the gallstones, the only treatments available are medications to dissolve the gallstones or surgery to remove them.


Cholecystitis is a disease characterized by inflammation of the gallbladder. This happens when bile gets stuck in the gallbladder. It can be caused by gallstones, a bacterial infection, tumors of the pancreas or liver, or a build-up of thick material in the gallbladder known as gallbladder sediment.

Cholecystitis symptoms can include:

  • Sudden and severe pain in the upper abdomen on the right side.
  • Pain that spreads to the back or under the scapula on the right side and worsens with deep inhalation.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hot
  • Swelling
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes ( jaundice ).
  • Soft and light stools

Treatment generally includes hospitalization, gallbladder removal, intravenous antibiotics, and pain relievers.


Liver problems, such as a liver abscess, can also cause pain in the upper abdomen.

Liver abscess

A liver abscess is a pus-filled sac in the liver that can be caused by bacteria, a blood infection, liver damage, or an abdominal infection such as appendicitis.

Symptoms of liver abscess can include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Soft spot
  • Jaundice
  • Weightloss

Treatment of liver abscess requires drainage and treatment with antibiotics. If the abscess is severe, surgery may be needed to remove it.


In some cases, health conditions can also cause pain in the upper abdomen.

Myocardial infarction

A heart attack , also called a myocardial infarction, is the result of a blockage in an artery. Immediate medical attention is required.

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Tightness and pain in the chest
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cold sweat
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Pain spreading to the left arm.

Treatment for a heart attack takes place in a hospital and may include medications such as aspirin, antiplatelet agents, blood thinners, nitroglycerin to improve blood flow, and ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure.

Surgery may also be necessary. Two surgeries that can be performed include coronary angioplasty and coronary artery bypass grafting and stenting.


The job of the lungs is to deliver oxygen to the red blood cells, from where they can be transferred to other cells that need oxygen to function. They also help remove carbon dioxide. Some conditions that affect the lungs can cause pain in the upper abdomen.


Pneumonia is an infection that causes inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs. The air sacs can fill with fluid or pus, leading to breathing difficulties and other symptoms.

Pneumonia often presents with sharp or stabbing chest pains that can get worse when someone coughs or takes deep breaths. Other symptoms include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hot
  • Shaking chills
  • Excessive sweating
  • Coughing up green, yellow, or bloody mucus
  • Confusion

The most common form of pneumonia is caused by bacteria, but it can also develop from a viral infection. Pneumonia will be treated based on the cause. Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antipyretic drugs
  • Rest and fluids
  • Oxygen therapy in severe cases.

Pulmonary embolism

Pulmonary embolism is a blood clot in the lungs. The condition can be life-threatening and cause lung damage due to restricted blood flow and reduced oxygen levels. Up to 30% of people with pulmonary embolism die from this disease.

Symptoms of pulmonary embolism can include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bloody cough
  • Hot
  • Legache
  • Abdominal pain

A pulmonary embolism is usually treated in a hospital, and treatment may include blood-thinning medications, compression stockings, and sometimes surgery to improve blood flow and reduce the risk of future blood clots.

When to call your doctor

If your upper abdominal pain is severe, worsens with breathing, lasts more than a few days, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath or confusion, you should seek immediate medical attention.


Bodily injury can also cause pain in the upper abdomen. Injury to the abdomen can damage various internal organs, including the intestines, liver, intestines, and spleen .

Direct trauma to the upper body can cause pain in the upper abdomen. Common causes of blunt and abdominal trauma include car accidents, assaults, falls, or various types of recreational accidents.

Other trauma-related symptoms will depend on the type of injury and other parts of the body affected. Abdominal trauma is believed to be one of the leading causes of death for young people worldwide.

If you have an accident or injury and are now experiencing pain in your upper abdomen, it is best to see your doctor. Treatment will depend on the extent of the injury and the type of injury.

Frequently asked questions

What Causes Upper Abdominal Pain?

Upper abdominal pain can be due to a number of reasons. Some causes, such as indigestion or acid reflux, can be easily treated, while others are more serious, such as pulmonary embolism and injury or trauma.

How do you know if your stomach pain is severe?

It's not always easy to tell if your abdominal pain is severe, but there are some signs to look out for. If the pain worsens during breathing, becomes severe, or presents with other symptoms such as shortness of breath, you should go to the emergency room.

Why does my stomach hurt when I bend over?

Abdominal pain when bending over is usually caused by GERD. This condition causes discomfort and burning after eating. Another possible cause of flexion pain is an inguinal hernia. It occurs when the soft tissues of the abdomen protrude through the muscles, causing pain and other symptoms.

Why does my upper abdomen hurt when I cough?

A bacterial infection can cause pain in the upper abdomen that is worse when coughing. The most prominent type of bacterial infection that can cause pain in the upper abdomen is pneumonia, in which the air sacs become inflamed and filled with fluid or pus. A hernia can also cause coughing pain in the upper abdomen.

How is upper abdominal pain treated?

Treatment for upper abdominal pain depends on the cause. If it's caused by GERD or indigestion, changing what you eat and how much you eat in one sitting can help ease the pain. For other conditions, such as an injury, you may need to wait for the injury to heal and take pain relievers to deal with the pain as you heal.

Get the word of drug information

Since there are so many causes of upper abdominal pain, it can be difficult to determine what the actual cause is. As for some of the causes, they are not serious and can be treated with home or over-the-counter remedies. However, other conditions require a visit to the doctor. If you experience severe upper abdominal pain or pain that persists, make an appointment with your doctor or seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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