What Does Your Stomach Pain Signify?


While pain in the stomach or abdominal area can arise from the tissues of the abdominal wall, such as skin and abdominal muscles, the term abdominal pain, in general, is used to describe pain originating from organs within the abdominal cavity.

These organs include the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, gallbladder and pancreas. Occasionally pain may be felt in the abdomen even though it is arising from organs that are close to but not within the abdominal cavity. For example, the lower lungs, the kidneys and the uterus or ovaries. Let’s find out what they signify…

What causes it

– Inflammation (appendicitis or colitis)

– Stretching or istension of an organ, blockage of a bile duct by gallstones or swelling of the liver with hepatitis

– Loss of the supply of blood to an organ

– Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

When seeing a doctor remember to give him the exact location of where the pain first started and what is the severity of the pain. Also mention how frequent they are and whether they increase or decrease after meals.

Acute pain post meals

They are mostly due to excessive gas in your digestive system. They can be treated easily using over-the-counter medications. It may also signify an ulcer.

Everyone passes gas on a daily basis, but sometimes gas pains might be mistaken for gallstones and heart disease.


It may happen due to swallowing air when you eat or drink, or certain ingredients in foods that cause the formation of gases when they interact with bacteria in the colon, like dals, dairy products, whole grains and pulses.

Common food elements that cause gas formation include sugars, starches and fiber, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

How to avoid it…

– Eat small meals often, do not overeat.

– Eat slowly and chew your food properly

– Don’t eat when you’re in a hurry, upset or anxious because stress can interfere with your digestive system.

Abdominal pain on the left

Pain on the left clearly indicates that there is serious trouble. Our stomach is above our waist, on the left side of our body, and this pain is not in the abdomen but down below your waist.

It could indicate a problem in the descending colon. Cancer or inflammation of the descending colon can affect the wall of the abdomen. It is this irritation that causes the abdominal pain left side.

It can hint at Cancer of the Colon. Where the pain is not very distinct

colonoscopy plays an important role. Your doctor gets to see the inside of your colon empty.

The pain can also be diverticulitis. It is an inflammation of the pockets that form along the path of the large intestine.

Crohn’s disease can cause diarrhea and bloody discharge in your stool. A careful diet plan can help you. Older adults may need surgery.

Pain on the right

Right side abdominal pain, point to a few specific diseases and conditions.

Kidney stones: In most cases, the pain will start to the back and move around to the front, though with small stones the patient might not feel it until it has wound around to the right side of the abdomen.

Appendicitis: Pain in the lower quadrant points to appendicitis

In some cases, the pain starts around the naval area and tracks right down the stomach, but in either case the condition is serious.

You may need to have your appendix removed, and severe infections can result.

Stomach Ulcers: If the pain in the right is accompanied by pain in the chest, and is concentrated in the upper quadrant, you might be suffering from stomach ulcers. The pain is sharp and repetative after intervals and worst on an empty stomach.

This condition is not serious if caught in time and remedied with adequate healthy eating and lifestyle habits.

Other conditions

It can also end up being an underlying cause for some other condition like pancreatitis or ectopic pregannacy.

Pancreatitis can start as pain in either the lower left or lower right quadrant of the abdomen.

Women experiencing an ectopic pregnancy often experience right side abdominal pain. The best way to diagnose your condition is to see a doctor immediately for treatment.

Inflammatory bowel disorders generally occur in young people ages 20 to 40. Ulcerative colitis is also common in young people. It is usually a pre-cursor to colon cancer.

Investigations that would aid diagnosis include

– Blood tests including full blood count, electrolytes, urea, creatinine, liver function tests, pregnancy test and lipase.

– Urinalysis

– Imaging including erect chest X-ray and plain films of the abdomen

– If diagnosis remains unclear after history, examination and basic investigations as above then more advanced investigations may reveal a diagnosis. These as such would include

– Computed Tomography of the abdomen/pelvis

– Abdominal or pelvic ultrasound

– Endoscopy and colonoscopy (not used for diagnosing acute pain)