What Causes Abdominal Pain?


hAbdominal pain may be one of the more ubiquitous gastrointestinal symptoms a person can experience. Most people can easily recall a time when they had a pain in their stomach, perhaps even accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, cramping and bloating.

Because abdominal pain can be due to a wide number of causes, it can be difficult for the average person to know why they are in pain – especially considering how different we all are when it comes to digestion and overall health. San Francisco Gastroenterology has outlined five potential causes for abdominal pain.*

*Please keep in mind that this list does not include all possible causes for abdominal pain. If you find your abdominal pain is acute or chronic, please contact the specialists at SFGI.

Indigestion and/or Constipation

If you’ve ever felt like you ate too much after a meal or that you are uncomfortable while eating, you’ve probably experienced indigestion. If you’ve ever struggled with bowel movements that were difficult or infrequent, then you’ve likely been constipated. Both indigestion and constipation are potential sources for abdominal pain. Both conditions tend to calm with time and/or over-the-counter medicine, but if they are consistent and interrupt your daily life, it’s best to contact a gastroenterologist.

Food poisoning

Food poisoning can range in severity from case to case and usually involves stomach cramping, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, fever and a general sense of illness and weakness. There are numerous types of food poisoning, but the most common tend to be caused by consumption of food containing bacteria such as salmonella or E. coli.


An ulcer or peptic ulcer is a sore found in the lining of a person’s stomach or esophagus. Symptoms of peptic ulcers include abdominal pain that is often described as a “burning” sensation that can worsen at night and be relieved by eating a meal or taking antacids.


Having gas is an entirely normal part of being a human being. Certain foods are more likely to cause gas than others, and in these cases, when gas is more intense or frequent than normal, it can lead to abdominal pain. These foods are typically dairy, whole grain, fruit, beans and vegetables like broccoli.


If you are allergic to a certain food and you consume this food, your body can go through a number of reactions depending on the severity of your allergy. Some common reactions to a food allergy include an itchy mouth, hives/rashes, dizziness, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Severe reaction to a food allergy can also include anaphylaxis, which can cause a person’s throat to swell and make breathing difficult. Emergency treatment is needed immediately in cases of a severe allergic reaction.

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