What Causes Stomachaches?

June 17, 2024

For the most part, stomachaches are a natural and expected part of life. In fact, most individuals experience quite a few stomachaches over the course of their life. Thankfully, most stomachaches aren't cause for serious concern. However, if individuals experience bad pain or recurring pain, they may want to have a doctor do an examination. General practitioners can diagnose and treat many common causes of abdominal pain, though they may refer patients to a specialist if the problem appears to be more complex. Get to know the variety of reasons individuals may experience stomachaches now.


Indigestion is a recurrent or persistent discomfort or pain that occurs in the upper portion of the abdomen. The medical term for indigestion is dyspepsia. Rather than being a medical condition of its own, indigestion is considered a piece of a larger underlying condition. It may be a sign of gallbladder disease, ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or other digestive issues. The symptoms vary. It's common to experience a burning sensation in the upper abdomen or stomach, pain throughout the abdomen, a bloated feeling, gas and belching, vomiting, nausea, growling stomach, and an acidic taste in the mouth. Some patients find their symptoms increase when they're stressed. Heartburn often occurs alongside indigestion, but it's a separate symptom that indicates other potential problems.

Stomach Virus

Stomach pain is often caused by a stomach virus, which are viral infections that attack the digestive system. There are a number of stomach virus strains, though the one that most commonly occurs in the United States is a norovirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that between nineteen and twenty-one norovirus infections occur in the United States every year. They most commonly occur throughout the winter, but it's also possible to contract them in the summer. Norovirus infections can be transmitted through drinking contaminated water, eating contaminated food, touching infected individuals and then touching the mouth, or touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the mouth. Noroviruses frequently mutate, so many individuals will catch more than one over the course of their lives.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is a common condition, and most individuals will experience some kind of food poisoning at some point. In the most serious cases, food poisoning can cause life-threatening symptoms. Food poisoning occurs when individuals become infected by organisms in their food. Some might not have symptoms at all, but when symptoms occur, they can range from a mild stomachache to bloody diarrhea and severe dehydration. Other common symptoms are gas, bloating, fever, weakness, muscle aches, and abdominal cramps. Some bacteria that can cause food poisoning include listeria, e. Coli, Campylobacter, Shigella, and salmonella. One rare, serious kind of food poisoning is botulism. If an individual has botulism, they'll have symptoms in addition to a stomachache, including vomiting, muscle paralysis, dry mouth, muscle weakness, blurry vision, or slurred speech. Individuals with symptoms of botulism should call 911 to receive emergency medical treatment.


Stomachaches can be the result of gas, which is a natural part of the digestive process. As the digestive system breaks down food, it also produces gas. Gas is usually expelled through burping or flatulence. The majority of individuals expel gas around twenty times each day. Though the process is normal, it can be embarrassing or cause pain. The main two ways gas accumulates are through the breakdown of food and through swallowing air. When individuals drink and eat, they swallow air. As undigested food enters the large intestine, bacteria begin breaking it down, a process that creates methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen gas. Individuals most commonly get gas through consuming carbohydrates. Common gas-producing foods include fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy products, soft drinks, whole grain foods, and fruit drinks.

Food Allergies Or Intolerances

It's fairly common for individuals to find certain foods make their body react unpleasantly. Unpleasant reactions can be caused by food allergies or intolerances. There is a difference between an allergy and an intolerance. Allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly reacts to the food, labeling it as an intruder. This causes the immune system to overwork itself, which can cause inflammation, pain, difficulty breathing, and total closing of the throat in serious cases. A food intolerance, on the other hand, isn't related to the immune system. Instead, it tends to be caused by the digestive system struggling to break down the food properly. Individuals who are lactose intolerant cannot digest milk and other dairy products properly, and they are often left with excessive gas or a stomachache, but their immune systems don't react to milk consumption unless they also have an allergy.

MORE FROM HealthPrep