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Abdominal Pain


Abdominal pain can be dull, achy, or sharp. You may have pain in one area of your abdomen, or in your entire abdomen. Your pain may be caused by a condition such as constipation, food sensitivity or poisoning, infection, or a blockage. Abdominal pain can also be from a hernia, appendicitis, or an ulcer. Liver, gallbladder, or kidney conditions can also cause abdominal pain. The cause of your abdominal pain may be unknown.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have new chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • You have pulsing pain in your upper abdomen or lower back that suddenly becomes constant.
  • Your pain is in the right lower abdominal area and worsens with movement.
  • You have a fever over 100.4°F (38°C) or shaking chills.
  • You are vomiting and cannot keep food or liquids down.
  • Your pain does not improve or gets worse over the next 8 to 12 hours.
  • You see blood in your vomit or bowel movements, or they look black and tarry.
  • Your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow.
  • You are a woman and have a large amount of vaginal bleeding that is not your monthly period.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have pain in your lower back.
  • You are a man and have pain in your testicles.
  • You have pain when you urinate.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Follow up with your healthcare provider within 24 hours or as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Medicines may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting or to decrease pain. Ask how to take pain medicine safely.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.