The upper part of the abdomen consists of the oesophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas and the duodenum. An infection, a disorder, or an inflammation in any one of these parts of the abdomen can cause upper stomach pain. The problems associated with the upper abdomen can be simple and temporary or it can be severe and dangerous. In some cases, the pain in the upper abdomen can be related to other organs within the vicinity as well. Any problem with the rib cage wall, kidneys, heart and lungs can contribute to pain in the upper region of the abdomen. Therefore, in order to pinpoint the type of ailment, it is important to find the exact area in which the pain occurs.
Causes and Symptoms of Upper Abdomen Pain
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm - This condition materializes due to a weak area in the aorta wall. Over time, the wall may rupture due to its weakened condition. As the aorta is the largest artery in the body, this can be a serious condition. Pain in the upper abdomen, back pain and fatigue can be symptoms due to abdominal aortic aneurysm.
- Pancreatitis - Pancreatitis can occur due to excessive alcohol use, viral infections, and diseases of the gallbladder. Upper abdominal pain is a main symptom of pancreatitis. In addition, abdominal swelling, back pain, nausea, and vomiting can also occur.
- Reflux Esophagitis - This is due to inflammation of the oesophagus. Symptoms of reflux esophagitis will include heartburn, indigestion, and pain in the upper abdomen.
- Crohn’s Disease - Inflammation of the intestines is known as Crohn’s disease. This disease will affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Small ulcerations in the small and large intestines which become severe over time cause the bowels to scar. With the narrowing of the small intestine as the disease progresses, the flow of the contents through the intestines is strictly hampered. This in return causes pain in the upper abdomen and produce blood mixes diarrhea.
- Kidney Stones - Minerals such as calcium get deposited in the kidneys during the waste excretion process and these can lead to the formation of small crystals in the urine. These crystals will bind together and can become even as large as tennis balls. Such stones will obstruct the flow of urine and cause severe back pain and upper stomach pain.
- Splenic Abscess - Splenic abscess will occur when a person has pus in abnormal amounts in the spleen. This is caused by a bacterial infection which is in the blood stream. This condition occurs mostly in persons with low immune systems. Symptoms include left upper abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting etc.
- Gastritis - Burning pain in the upper section of the stomach is most often associated with gastritis. Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. Alcohol, caffeine, medication, and the habit of skipping meals can all contribute to the cause of gastritis.
- Hiatal Hernia - This occurs when a part of the stomach pushes itself up into the diaphragm. A large hiatal hernia will cause heartburn as food and acid will be regurgitated into the oesophagus. Stomach pain in the upper region and heartburn are some of the symptoms associated with hiatal hernia.
- Constipation - Difficulty in passing stools is known as constipation. Certain types of foods, medication, and health conditions cause constipation. Pain in the upper stomach is usually alleviated once a bowel movement is had.
- Liver Cancer - Cancers of the stomach region are very common and liver cancer is just one such type. This can occur with hepatitis or the multiplication of any abnormal cells in the liver. Pain in the right upper stomach region can be associated with liver cancer.
The above mentioned are some of the diseases and illnesses which may be associated with pain in the upper stomach. These are not the only causes which one should consider when experiencing such pain. It could be a simple abdominal wall muscle inflammation or a severe internal organ related issue. Therefore, medical advice is a must for those who have persistent symptoms of stomach pain.
Prevention of Pain in the Upper Abdomen
There is no specific method of preventing pain in the upper abdomen. However, once the cause of the pain is identified, one can ensure that if prevention methods prescribed by a physician are followed, pain associated with these illnesses can be alleviated.
In general, heart burn, gastric and constipation issues can be avoided with proper eating habits and dietary control measures. Consuming a high quantity of liquids exceeding the daily quota of 2 litres of water can help reduce the risk of kidney stones being formed. Reduced or non consumption of alcohol can help prevent liver cancer. Infections, in general, can be reduced with healthy diet and taking of vitamins and supplements that help boost immunity.
Treatment for Pain in the Upper Abdomen
There are various medications and therapies which can treat pain in the upper abdomen depending on the cause. For example, if a person has kidney stones, a doctor may prescribe narcotic pain medications, antibiotics, and oral fluids in order to ensure that the stones are flushed through the urethra. In severe cases where the stones have developed to large size, surgical removal will be necessary. Some other illnesses such as hernia and abdominal aortic aneurysm will require surgery to resolve the underlying cause of pain. Some symptoms may disappear on their own, while some others can be controlled with dietary changes and exercise. However, if a person has persistent upper stomach pain it is always recommended to seek medical advice immediately since many vital organs are contained within the stomach cavity.