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Lower & Upper Stomach Pain: Know the Cause, Symptom & Treatment

lower abdominal pain

Pain that is felt between the chest and pelvic areas is referred to as stomach pain. It may feel crampy, achy, dull, acute, or sporadic. Severe discomfort in the stomach can also be caused by parasitic, bacterial, or viral illnesses affecting the stomach and intestines.

Lower stomach pain is discomfort below the belly button, often caused by digestive issues, reproductive concerns, or other underlying conditions. Upper stomach pain is discomfort in the region above the belly button, potentially stemming from digestive problems, organ issues, or infections.

Should the discomfort linger or worsen, speak with your healthcare provider. If you are experiencing severe acute stomach discomfort, schedule a visit with your doctor so that you can identify the cause and begin the proper treatment. 

What Are the Symptoms of Lower and Upper Stomach Pain?

The symptoms of lower stomach pain may include:

  • Cramping
  • Sharp or dull ache
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loose motions

Lower stomach pain can also be associated with frequent urination, severe pain, or bleeding, depending on the underlying cause. Conditions such as urinary tract infections, kidney stones, or gynaecological issues may be present with these symptoms.

The common symptoms associated with upper stomach pain include:

  • Burning Sensation – A burning or gnawing discomfort in the upper stomach.
  • Heartburn – A sensation of acid reflux or regurgitation, often accompanied by a sour taste in the mouth.
  • Nausea – Nausea or the feeling of being sick to oneself.
  • Vomiting – Emptying the stomach contents via the mouth. 
  • Feeling Full – Early satiety or a sensation of fullness after eating a small amount.
  • Loss of Appetite – A reduced desire to eat.
  • Belching or Gas – Releasing air from the stomach through the mouth.
  • Indigestion – Difficulty in digesting food, often accompanied by bloating.
  • Fatigue – Feeling tired or lethargic.
  • Radiating Pain – Pain that may spread to the chest, back, or shoulders, depending on the cause.

You Can Also Read: Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

What are the Causes of Lower and Upper Stomach Pain?

Lower stomach pain causes

Swallowing excess air, eating high-fat foods that delay stomach emptying, and even stress can contribute to abdominal bloating and lower stomach pain.

The following digestive and stomach-related illnesses can produce these symptoms:

  • constipation
  • intolerance to certain ingredients, such as lactose or gluten
  • gastroenteritis
  • colitis
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • intestinal obstruction
  • ileus, a slowdown of regular small- and large-bowel movements
  • Gastroparesis, which is typically a consequence of diabetes mellitus
  • Crohn’s disease
  • diverticulitis
  • irritable bowel syndrome

The following reproductive organ-related conditions may be the source of these symptoms:

  • ectopic pregnancy
  • pregnancy
  • endometriosis
  • menstrual pain
  • PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
  • ovarian cancer
  • ovarian cysts
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Other possible causes of these symptoms include:

  • appendicitis
  • hernia
  • cystitis
  • medications
  • cirrhosis
  • intra-abdominal cancers
  • drug allergy
  • food allergies

Upper stomach pain causes

Upper stomach pain can stem from various conditions, each with distinct symptoms and causes. Understanding these issues can help you recognize potential concerns and seek appropriate medical attention.

  • Gallstones:

    These are solid deposits in the gallbladder causing pain on the right side, including upper stomach pain, right shoulder pain, nausea, vomiting and back pain. Treatment is done through medication or gallbladder removal surgery. 

  • Hepatitis:

    It is a liver infection which causes right-sided upper stomach pain. Its types are Hepatitis A (contaminated food/water), Hepatitis B (serious, may lead to liver issues) and Hepatitis C (chronic viral infection). The symptoms include weakness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, fever and jaundice.

  • Liver Abscess:

    This is a pus-filled sac in the liver, causing right upper stomach pain. The symptoms are chest pain, clay-coloured stool, dark urine, appetite loss, fever and jaundice.

  • GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease):

    It’s an acid reflux which causes pain in the upper stomach. The symptoms include heartburn, chest pain, swallowing issues, sour taste and nighttime reflux-related symptoms.

  • Hiatal Hernia:

    A hiatal hernia occurs when your stomach protrudes through the diaphragm. The symptoms are heartburn, acid reflux, swallowing problems, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

  • Gastritis:

    It refers to the inflammation of the stomach lining. The symptoms include upper stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and feeling full after eating.

  • Peptic Ulcer:

    This is an open sore in the stomach or upper small intestine. The symptoms are burning stomach pain, fullness, bloating, heartburn and nausea.

  • Gastroparesis:

    This occurs when delayed stomach emptying interferes with digestion. The symptoms include upper stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, acid reflux and bloating.

  • Functional Dyspepsia:

    It is an indigestion without an obvious cause. The symptoms are upper stomach pain, feeling full, bloating and nausea.

  • Pneumonia:

    It is a lung infection that causes chest pain. The symptoms include shortness of breath, cough with phlegm, fever and fatigue.

  • Ruptured Spleen:

    This is an emergency condition, which causes intense left upper stomach pain. The symptoms are tenderness, shoulder pain, dizziness and confusion.

  • Enlarged Spleen:

    This occurs when your spleen swells due to infections or liver disease. The symptoms include feeling full, anaemia, frequent infections and fatigue.

  • Other Gallbladder Issues:

    It refers to the various conditions affecting the gallbladder. Some general symptoms are nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhoea, light-coloured stools and dark urine. 

  • Pancreatitis:

    This is an inflammation of the pancreas, which causes left upper stomach pain. The symptoms include stomach pain, fever, nausea and vomiting.

  • Shingles:

    It is a viral infection which leads to a painful rash. The symptoms are sensitivity, fluid-filled blisters, itching, pain and fever.

  • Cancer:

    A variety of cancers cause upper stomach pain. The symptoms include unexplained weight loss, poor appetite, fatigue, nausea and jaundice.

  • Blind Loop Syndrome:

    It refers to the formation of loops in the small intestine. The symptoms are appetite loss, nausea, bloating, weight loss and diarrhoea.

  • Pregnancy:

    Pregnancy can cause upper stomach pain due to natural changes in the body, but persistent or severe pain warrants medical evaluation.

You Can Also Read:  12 common gastrointestinal disorders & prevention tips

What is the Treatment for Lower and Upper Stomach Pain?

Lower stomach pain treatment

First, your doctor will ask questions in an attempt to find out why you are experiencing these symptoms. They may want to know when you noticed the pain, what makes it worse, and whether you have experienced it before. A complete list of treatment options for the conditions that may cause stomach bloating and pelvic pain are beyond the scope of this article, but some examples of treatments for certain conditions include the following:

  • If painful menstruation is the cause of these symptoms, over-the-counter (OTC) and at-home drugs can help.
  • For the treatment of bacterial gastroenteritis, colitis, or PID, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
  • A ruptured appendix requires surgery as treatment.
  • Your doctor may be able to treat an intestinal blockage with intravenous fluids, bowel rest, and a nasogastric tube, but sometimes surgery is necessary.

Bloating and lower stomach pain due to digestion issues or menstruation will typically resolve with time. You can do some things at home that may help relieve bloating and lower stomach pain due to certain causes:

  • Taking mild OTC pain relievers may lessen stomach pain.
  • Treatment for acid reflux or heartburn may involve using over-the-counter (OTC) acid-reducing drugs.
  • Increasing your fluid intake can reduce constipation.
  • Breathing out might help release trapped gas and air in the stomach.

Upper stomach pain treatment

Not all causes of upper stomach pain can be effectively treated through home remedies. OTC antacids might help ease indigestion if it appears to be a straightforward case. For general pain and inflammation, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) might help. But these aren’t long-term solutions for persistent pain. See a healthcare practitioner if you have frequent pain or if your current pain management isn’t providing adequate relief.

A medical professional will evaluate you physically and inquire about your medical history. They may also run tests to narrow down the cause of your upper stomach pain. These might include imaging tests of your tissues and organs and blood tests that check for infections and inflammation. Based on their diagnosis, they will propose a course of therapy to you.


There are several potential reasons for stomach discomfort, both well-known and less-known. Medical professionals attempt to focus by gathering as much information as they can on your discomfort, so it is always advisable to seek medical help from an experienced gastroenterologist. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition. 

At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to consult a gastroenterologist, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment at the CK Birla Hospital.


When Should I Be Concerned About Stomach Pain?

If you experience severe or persistent stomach pain, especially accompanied by other concerning symptoms like fever, vomiting blood, or difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention to rule out serious conditions.

Can Stress and Anxiety Cause Stomach Pain?

Yes, stress and anxiety can contribute to stomach pain. The gut-brain connection influences digestive processes, and heightened stress levels may lead to symptoms like abdominal discomfort, cramping, or changes in bowel habits.

What Dietary Changes Can Help Prevent Stomach Pain?

Dietary changes to prevent stomach pain include maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, avoiding trigger foods (spicy or fatty), and incorporating fibre-rich foods. 

Is There a Way to Differentiate Between Indigestion and a More Serious Condition?

Differentiating between indigestion and a more serious condition involves considering factors like the duration, severity, and associated symptoms. Persistent or severe symptoms warrant medical evaluation to rule out underlying issues.

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