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What Conditions Cause Sharp Stomach Pain?

By Patti Kate
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are many causes of sharp stomach pain, including abdominal gas and gallstones. Pancreatitis may cause sharp stomach pain. Appendicitis is another cause of sharp pain in the abdomen, which generally travels to the lower right side. In some cases, food poisoning may also cause sharp or searing pain in the stomach. Intestinal bleeding from trauma to the liver or spleen may also cause sharp stomach pain.

Sharp abdominal pain is not a disease, but a symptom or indication of a condition or acute illness. When an individual suffers from gastrointestinal distress or stomach pain accompanied by fever, this generally indicates the presence of infection. A physician will determine the cause of infection and associated pain. Several factors can contribute to the diagnosis, including whether the the sharp stomach pain had occurred suddenly or has been a gradual and ongoing process.

In many cases, indigestion can be a cause of stomach cramps caused by gas. This is generally not serious, and may be relieved by taking an over-the-counter remedy. Some individuals may find relief from stomach pain associated with overeating by drinking herbal tea. If, however, the sharp stomach pain happens frequently, a physician may need to perform tests to learn the cause and determine the proper treatment.

Diverticulitis is a condition known to cause sharp stomach pain. This occurs when pockets that line the colon become enlarged and inflamed. This condition, common in older individuals, may require a special diet.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may cause sharp abdominal pain. Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis have been known to cause sharp pain or intestinal bleeding. These conditions will generally be helped by the use of prescription medications. Modifying one's diet may also be recommended for patients with IBD.

Women with ovarian cysts may experience sharp stomach pain. Cysts on the ovaries, which are located on either side of the uterus, may be caused by benign tumors. In such a case, medications may help dissolve the cysts or surgery may be recommended.

A more serious condition for women is ovarian cancer. This cancer, which may produce one large or several smaller malignant tumors on the ovaries, may cause severe or sharp pain in the abdomen. If not diagnosed and treated in time, ovarian cancer may be life threatening. Treatment for ovarian cancer typically involves surgery to remove the cancerous mass. This procedure may be followed by chemotherapy or radiation.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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