Abdominal pain: common causes and treatments

Abdominal pain can have many different causes. Especially if several factors play a role at the same time, it is difficult to determine the actual cause. Stomach pain can, for example, be caused by food poisoning, tight clothing or all kinds of allergies. In addition, there are various diseases that can cause abdominal pain. Sometimes diarrhea can occur due to the cramps you experience. What exactly are the different causes and how can I get rid of my stomach pain?

Stomach ache

  • Different causes
  • Stomach ache because of food
  • Conditions and diseases
  • Other causes
  • General solutions

Different causes

There are all kinds of reasons and conditions that can cause abdominal pain. Because there are so many causes for this condition, it is often difficult to find a cure. Below you will find a number of causes and treatments that may be related to the development of abdominal pain.

Stomach ache because of food

Food poisoning

Food poisoning can cause severe abdominal pain and stomach cramps. The natural immune system ensures that you eventually get diarrhea, which allows the food to leave the body. In many cases this is accompanied by vomiting. Sometimes food poisoning can even be fatal. Older people and people with underlying illnesses are more likely to succumb to food poisoning. It is recommended to consult a doctor immediately if you have a fever or dehydration. In addition, it is recommended to go to the doctor if you lose blood in the stool or if these complaints last more than four days.


There are several allergies that can cause stomach pain. For example, a milk allergy can cause stomach upset. In addition, a gluten or wheat allergy can also cause stomach pain. The allergies can be identified using an allergy test. You can prevent these complaints from occurring through diet.

Conditions and diseases

There are all kinds of diseases that can cause abdominal pain. For example, one may be dealing with an irritable bowel. It is often difficult to make the correct diagnosis because there are many conditions that can cause the same complaints. If the abdominal pain is very painful, it is recommended to consult a doctor immediately. This can sometimes indicate a serious illness.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

This condition is also known as ‘IBS’ and can cause intestinal cramps as well as disrupt the bowel movement. This is because the intestines start to make uncontrolled movements. Irritable bowel cannot be treated. However, it is possible to reduce the symptoms of this disease by watching your diet. Eating enough fiber and not skipping meals can help keep your intestines calmer. In addition, it is important to eat 200 grams of vegetables and 200 grams of fruit every day.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are conditions that belong to the so-called inflammatory bowel diseases, or IBD. Patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis have an increased risk of severe abdominal pain due to chronic inflammation. This chronic inflammation is located in the intestines. Patients with Crohn’s disease usually have inflammation in the lower part of the ileum, which is part of the small intestine. People who suffer from ulcerative colitis have inflammation of the rectum and colon (the large intestine).

Both conditions are treated with medications to reduce the symptoms. If these medications no longer help, the patient may need to undergo surgery in some cases.


Gallstones can cause severe abdominal pain. This is usually accompanied by fever. The abdominal pain with this condition is usually noticeable in the (right) upper abdomen. This has to do with the location of the gallbladder. A gallstone can be stuck near the gallbladder. In addition, this condition can cause pain in the lower abdomen. The pain is most noticeable when eating chocolate, eggs or fat, among other things. Patients who suffer from gallstones can be treated in various ways. The treatment depends on the location of the gallstones. These gallstones may be located in the gallbladder or bile ducts. When the bile is located somewhere in the bile ducts, a so-called ‘ERCP’ is performed, or an ‘Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio- and Pancreaticography’. An ERCP is a specific treatment that uses an endoscope (a flexible tube) to remove the gallstones. In exceptional cases, the gallbladder is removed.

Kidney stones

In people who suffer from kidney stones, abdominal pain is often felt in the lower abdomen. This pain is most noticeable during urination. Kidney stones are formed due to the crystallization of mineral salts. Kidney stones can be made of many different types of substances and they can differ in size. The type of treatment depends on what type of kidney stones you are dealing with. The treatment can consist of drinking enough water or, for example, taking medication. In severe cases, surgery may be required.


In women who suffer from endometriosis, the uterine lining (which is normally only found on the inside of the uterus) is also outside the uterus. For example, it may have attached itself to the fallopian tubes, bladder or intestines. Endometriosis foci located in the intestines cause pressure on the intestines, which can cause abdominal pain. Endometriosis can be treated through hormonal treatments or through surgical therapy. Doctors can only start surgery once keyhole surgery (or laparoscopy) has been performed to visualize the situation. In some cases, major abdominal surgery is performed. This is only used when there are large areas of endometriosis. In very rare cases, the uterus with the reproductive organs must be removed. This method is almost never used because it has major consequences for the patient.


Appendicitis is also called ‘appendicitis’ and can also cause severe abdominal pain. This pain is located in the lower abdomen. It can be recognized by the constant severe pain that can be felt or when shaking and jumping. These symptoms are accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Just like with colon cancer, there is a chance that you will have to undergo surgery for appendicitis. Sometimes surgery is not possible, for example when the appendix has burst open. In this case, the patient should receive antibiotics through an IV and take sufficient rest. At a later stage you will be given antibiotics in the form of pills or a drink.

Colon cancer

In some cases, severe abdominal pain can indicate a serious illness. In rare cases, colon cancer may occur. Colon cancer is a serious disease and can be recognized by, among other things, an unexpected drop in weight, constant diarrhea and blood loss in the stool. However, blood loss can also be caused by hemorrhoids, cracks around the anus or diverticula. Diverticula are bulges in the intestinal wall and usually occur in older people. The risk of colon cancer is increased in people who have previously had cancer, when they lead an unhealthy lifestyle and older people have a higher risk.

People with colon cancer usually need to undergo surgery. In addition, chemotherapy may be used to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy uses drugs that reach the cancer cells through your bloodstream. Chemotherapy is only used for (colon) cancer as an additional treatment (to prevent metastases) or palliative treatment. Palliative treatment reduces the symptoms, but does not cure the disease. It is intended for patients who are terminally ill and want to reduce pain.

Other causes


Women may feel a painful sensation in the lower abdomen during menstruation. This is because the muscle tissue of the uterus begins to contract during this period. Pain due to menstruation can often be reduced with the contraceptive pill. However, it is advisable to ask for advice about this because the pill has an effect on the hormone balance and has consequences for fertility. In some cases, the contraceptive pill can actually cause abdominal pain. However, this varies per person.


Tight clothing can increase the risk of abdominal pain. Jeans in particular can sometimes be worn too tight around the waist. It is important to check in advance whether your belt is not too tight. When purchasing clothing, it is important to ensure that the product you buy fits comfortably enough. It is not recommended to buy clothing where you have difficulty putting on the product. It may help to undo the top button of your pants after eating. It is also recommended to loosen your belt.

The bowel movements

Constipation can promote abdominal pain. The body ensures that it can get rid of its waste products. This sometimes causes the intestines to work intensely, making the stool thin. This causes you to get diarrhea and allows the feces to leave the body.


When you swallow air, gases can enter the intestines, causing stomach problems. The chance of swallowing air is greatest when you finish a glass of drink in a hurry. In addition, flatulence can occur during the digestion of food. The intestines automatically ensure that excess air can leave the body. It is recommended not to hold back winds; Holding in excess air can worsen abdominal pain. You can take medications such as ‘Rennie Deflatine’ to specifically combat flatulence. It is important to read the package leaflet because it states exactly how many pills you can take per day. However, a better solution is to (if possible) naturally prevent excess air from building up in the intestines.

General solutions

If you have a lot of stomach problems, it is possible to use paracetamol. It is recommended to read the package leaflet carefully. Using a hot water bottle can provide relief as a more natural solution. In addition, a good sleeping pattern is important to have good resistance. It is recommended to consult a doctor if you are experiencing persistent pain.