What are the Most Common Causes of Severe Stomach Pain?

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  • Written By: A.E. Freeman
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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The causes of severe stomach pain can be serious, or they could be a temporary, easily treatable problem. The most common causes of severe stomach pain include the stomach flu, constipation, and appendicitis. Autoimmune diseases such as Crohn's or colitis can also lead to severe stomach pain. If an individual experiences a sudden, severe pain in her abdomen, she should see her doctor immediately to diagnose the cause and receive proper treatment.

Severe stomach pain is a common symptom of gastroenteritis, or the stomach flu. Gastroenteritis is usually caused by a virus and is very contagious. Fortunately, most people recover from the stomach flu after a few days of rest. The stomach pain that accompanies gastroenteritis is usually a cramping pain or a burning pain, usually in the upper part of the abdominal area. It's usually accompanied by fever, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Severe stomach pain that is accompanied by trouble moving the bowels is usually caused by constipation. A person can remedy constipation by eating more fiber and by exercising more. If the constipation is accompanied by severe abdominal pain, the affected person should see her doctor, especially if the pain and constipation are accompanied by weight loss and last longer than a few days.


Appendicitis also causes severe stomach pain. The pain can start out mild but grow more severe as the condition worsens. Usually, the pain is near the naval and the lower right section of the stomach area. It grows worse when pressure is applied to the area.

The best way to cure appendicitis is surgery to remove the appendix. In some cases, the appendix becomes infected before it is removed and ruptures. If that happens, a patient should be treated for the infection before undergoing surgery.

Crohn's disease and colitis, which cause inflammation in the abdominal area, also cause severe pain in some people. Not everyone who suffers from Crohn's or colitis experiences abdominal pain. The amount and location of pain depends on how severe the disease is and what form of the disease a person has. In some cases, Crohn's disease leads to scarring of the intestines, which causes extreme stomach pain as well as vomiting.

Someone with left-sided colitis or pancolitis may also experience severe pain in the stomach. Along with pain, a person may have diarrhea that is bloody, feel fatigued, and lose a lot of weight without trying. Treatments for colitis and Crohn's can include steroids, medications that suppress the immune system, and antibiotics.


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