Upper Abdomen Pain Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home Remedies

Upper Abdomen Pain Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home Remedies


What is upper abdominal pain?


Upper abdominal pain can be caused by many conditions, related to problems with the esophagus (GERD), gallbladder, stomach, pancreas, or other non-digestive problems, such as heart or musculoskeletal problems.

Pain in the upper abdomen may originate in the gallbladder or liver and may be due to gall stones, hepatitis, or liver abscess. More-generalized pain may originate in the intestines and may be related to inflammatory conditions or infections. Persistent or severe upper abdominal pain may be related to other digestive tract conditions or to conditions of the body wall, blood vessels, kidneys, heart, or lungs.

It is important to remember that any persistent complaint should be checked out by a health care professional right away, since symptoms are not always as they appear, and can possibly be a sign of a serious problem. Seek immediate medical care for severe pain that comes on suddenly, the inability to have bowel movements, bloody stool, vomiting blood, abdominal rigidity, breathing difficulties, or pain in the neck, chest, shoulders, or between the shoulders.

What causes upper abdominal pain?


Upper abdominal pain often originates in the digestive tract, although it can also be due to disorders of the circulatory system, kidneys, respiratory system, or body wall.

Digestive tract causes of upper abdominal pain


Upper abdominal pain may be caused by conditions of the digestive tract including:

  • Bacterial, parasitic or viral infection of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Celiac disease (severe sensitivity to gluten from wheat and other grains that causes intestinal damage)
  • Diverticulitis (inflammation of an abnormal pocket in the colon)
  • Food intolerance such as lactose intolerance (inability to digest lactose, the sugar in dairy products)
  • Gallbladder disease or stones
  • Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (includes Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS; digestive discomfort that does not cause intestinal damage or serious disease)
  • Liver disease, including hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Ulcers of the stomach or duodenum (first section of the small intestine)

Other causes of upper abdominal pain


Upper abdominal pain can also be caused by conditions involving other body systems including:

  • Cancer of an abdominal organ
  • Hiatal hernia (weakened area of the diaphragm that allows the stomach to protrude into the chest)
  • Kidney stones
  • Pleurisy (inflammation of the lining around the lungs)
  • Pneumonia
  • Pyelonephritis (kidney infection)
  • Shingles (painful, blistering rash, often forming a stripe, that results from a reactivation of the varicella-zoster, or chickenpox, virus)

Serious or life-threatening causes of upper abdominal pain


In some cases, upper abdominal pain may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Abdominal abscess
  • Aneurysm of the abdominal aorta (life-threatening bulging and weakening of the wall of the abdominal aorta that can burst and cause severe hemorrhage)
  • Bowel obstruction or perforation
  • Chemical or heavy metal poisoning
  • Colonic volvulus (twisting of the colon)
  • Intestinal ischemia (loss of blood supply to the intestines leading to death of intestinal tissue)
  • Intussusception (telescoping of the intestines into themselves, which can cause intestinal ischemia)
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Peritonitis (infection of the lining that surrounds the abdomen)
  • Sickle cell crisis (blockage of small blood vessels by abnormally shaped red blood cells)
  • Significant abdominal trauma

Upper Abdomen Pain Symptoms


Upper abdominal pain may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Upper abdominal pain is often related to the digestive tract, and may accompany other digestive tract symptoms. Symptoms related to other body systems may also occur and sometimes upper abdominal pain is not related to a condition of the digestive tract.

Digestive tract symptoms that may occur along with upper abdominal pain


Upper abdominal pain may accompany other symptoms affecting the digestive system including:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Abdominal swelling, distension or bloating
  • Belching
  • Bloody stool (blood may be red, black, or tarry in texture)
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Constipation
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea with or without vomiting

Other symptoms that may occur along with upper abdominal pain


Upper abdominal pain may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:

  • Body aches
  • Cough
  • Enlarged liver and glands such as the spleen and lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • General ill feeling
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain, numbness or tingling
  • Palpable mass in the abdomen
  • Rash
  • Unexpected weight loss

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition


In some cases, upper abdominal pain may be a symptom of a life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Change in level of consciousness or alertness such as passing out or unresponsiveness
  • Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure, or palpitations
  • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Inability to have bowel movements, especially if accompanied by vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Respiratory or breathing problems such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, wheezing, not breathing, or choking
  • Rigidity of the abdomen
  • Severe abdominal pain or sharp abdominal pain that comes on suddenly
  • Trauma to the abdomen
  • Vomiting blood, rectal bleeding, or bloody stool

Diagnosing Upper Abdomen Pain



Determining the location and type of pain is the first step in diagnosing upper abdominal pain. When the abdomen is rigid and tender to touch it is a serious sign. If the abdomen is gently pressed and then released, it is a symptom that the patient needs Immediate medical care.

In addition to a physical examination and medical history, blood and urine tests are commonly part of reaching a diagnosis. Endoscopy is often used to examine the interior of the digestive system to see if there are ulcers or gallstones or other problems.

A ruptured spleen is a medical emergency that needs immediate attention and is likely to require surgery.

Depending on the symptoms that come with the upper abdominal pain, your doctor will make the best diagnosis possible. Then a treatment plan can be set up.

Upper Abdomen Pain Treatment


In most instances of abdominal pain, you can care for yourself at home and wait to call your doctor only if symptoms persist. Drink water and clear fluids, avoid dairy products and pain medications (unless your doctor prescribes them) and try antacids for gas pain.

See your doctor if the pain is very severe, and consider getting immediate medical attention if you experience other serious symptoms, like chest pain or bloody stool.

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Home Remedy for Upper Abdominal Pain


Home Remedy for Upper Abdominal Pain follow ehow.com:

Acid or Aneurysm


Heartburn and indigestion are the simplest causes. That doesn't mean they are any less painful, but they are easy to treat with a home remedy for upper abdominal pain. Ulcers, stomach flu, milk intolerance, acid reflux and aneurysm are more serious and need specific remedies. If you have a reoccurring pain in your upper abdomen, you should see your doctor and get the cause diagnosed. If it is heartburn and indigestion, you will be able to treat it effectively with home remedies.

Indian Herbs


Ayurveda, the ancient Indian herbal medicine, has a home remedy for upper abdominal pain. Use sesame oil for gastritis. Take 1/2 to 1 tbsp. one to three times a day. Rapeseed oil is also a remedy for gastritis. Apply it on the navel and massage it on both sides. If the abdominal pain is caused by worm infestation, take onion juice, three drops to 1 tsp. twice daily, Neem powder, 1 to 4 g twice daily or a pinch of asafetida wrapped in a small piece of jaggery (or molasses) a half an hour before meals.

Healing Herbs


Fresh organic ginger is an effective home remedy for upper abdominal pain. It may help with flatulence, stomach pain, nausea and it supports the stomach and digestive system. Grate it, boil it for a few minutes, and then strain it to make a delicious tea. Aniseed is another good remedy for abdominal pain and gas. Also, cayenne pepper may help with indigestion and digestive disorders, nausea and vomiting. Marjoram, fennel, oregano and perilla are also healing herbs that treat abdominal pain.

Stop It Before It Starts


There are some things you can do at the very first suggestion that you have upper abdominal pain. Sip water or other clear fluids, such as the ginger tea earlier mentioned, and avoid solid food for the first few hours. If you are vomiting, eat nothing for six hours then take bland foods, such as rice or crackers. Stay away from foods that are acidic, such as tomato products and citrus; also avoid fried or greasy foods or any food high in fat.

If you are experiencing pain associated with vomiting and fever, it could be a case of food poisoning. These symptoms usually show within 48 hours of a suspect meal. If you think that this may be the cause, do not consume any additional food and visit your doctor immediately.

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