How to Find Out what’s Making Your Stomach Hurt Using this ‘Belly Map’

How to Find Out what’s Making Your Stomach Hurt Using this ‘Belly Map’
Abdominal pain can occur in many forms, each different than the other. Also, not every abdominal pain is life-threatening, but it does indicate that something is wrong within the body.

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The most frequent reason for abdominal pain are gastroenteritis (13%), irritable bowel syndrome (8%), urinary tract problems (5%), inflammation of the stomach (5%) and constipation (5%). In about 30% of cases, the cause is not determined. About 10% of cases have a more serious cause including gallbladder (stones or biliary dyskinesia) or pancreas problems (4%), diverticulitis (3%), appendicitis (2%) and cancer (1%). More common in those who are older, mesenteric ischemia and abdominal aortic aneurysms are other serious causes.

Depending on your type of pain and its location, there are a couple of conditions you might be suffering from:
Stomach ulcers
Kidney stones

If you are starting to feel cramps or pain, make sure that you have thought about the trigger causing this pain. You could have eaten something, which leads to stomach lining and intestinal swelling or inflammation.

This can also occur as a result of consuming plenty of alcohol.
Furthermore, you can experience stomach pain due to a virus threat or allergies.
Fatty foods also have the habit of irritating the stomach.
When your stomach is in pain, you are most likely to deal with heartburn, gas, nausea, vomiting, belching, chills, and an increase in bowel movements.

In case you recognize any of these symptoms, make a doctor’s appointment, who will diagnose you accordingly.

When a health care practitioner assesses a patient to determine the etiology and subsequent treatment for abdominal pain the history of the presenting complaint and physical examination should derive a diagnosis in over 90% of cases.

Investigations that aid diagnosis include

  • Blood tests including full blood count, electrolytes, urea, creatinine, liver function tests, pregnancy test, amylase and lipase.
  • Urinalysis
  • Imaging including erect chest X-ray and plain films of the abdomen
  • An electrocardiograph to rule out a heart attack which can occasionally present as abdominal pain

If diagnosis remains unclear after history, examination and basic investigations as above then more advanced investigations may reveal a diagnosis. These as such would include

  • Computed tomography of the abdomen/pelvis
  • Abdominal or pelvic ultrasound
  • Endoscopy and colonoscopy (not used for diagnosing acute pain

Here is a graphic that will show you how stomach pain works, according to its location and intensity:


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  • Upper middle abdominal pain
    • Stomach (gastritis, stomach ulcer, stomach cancer)
    • Pancreas pain (pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer, can radiate to the left side of the waist, back, and even shoulder)
    • Duodenal ulcer, diverticulitis
    • Appendicitis (starts here, after some time moves to lower right abdomen)
  • Upper right abdominal pain
    • Liver (caused by hepatomegaly due to fatty liver, hepatitis, or caused by liver cancer, abscess)
    • Gallbladder and biliary tract (gallstones, inflammation, roundworms)
    • Colon pain (below the area of liver – bowel obstruction, functional disorders, gas accumulation, spasm, inflammation, colon cancer)
  • Upper left abdominal pain
    • Spleen pain (splenomegaly)
    • Pancreas
    • Colon pain (below the area of spleen – bowel obstruction, functional disorders, gas accumulation, spasm, inflammation, colon cancer)
  • Middle abdominal pain (pain in the area around belly button)
    • Appendicitis (starts here)
    • Small intestine pain (inflammation, intestinal spasm, functional disorders)
  • Lower abdominal pain (diarrhea, colitis and dysentery)
  • Lower right abdominal pain
    • Cecum (intussusception, bowel obstruction)
    • Appendix point (Appendicitis location)
  • Lower left abdominal pain
    • diverticulitis, sigmoid volvulus, obstruction or gas accumulation
  • Pelvic pain
    • bladder (cystitis, may be secondary to diverticulum and bladder stone, bladder cancer)
    • pain in women (uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes)
  • Right lumbago and back pain
    • liver pain (hepatomegaly)
    • right kidney pain (its location below the area of liver pain)
  • Left lumbago and back pain
    • less in spleen pain
    • left kidney pain
  • Low back pain
    • kidney pain (kidney stone, kidney cancer, hydronephrosis)
    • Ureteral stone pain

Acute abdomen can be defined as severe, persistent abdominal pain of sudden onset that is likely to require surgical intervention to treat its cause. The pain may frequently be associated with nausea and vomiting, abdominal distention, fever and signs of shock. One of the most common conditions associated with acute abdominal pain is acute appendicitis.

Selected causes of acute abdomen

  • Traumatic: blunt or perforating trauma to the stomach, bowel, spleen, liver, or kidney
  • Inflammatory:
    • Infections such as appendicitis, cholecystitis, pancreatitis, pyelonephritis, pelvic inflammatory disease, hepatitis, mesenteric adenitis, or a subdiaphragmatic abscess
    • Perforation of a peptic ulcer, a diverticulum, or the caecum
    • Complications of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Mechanical:
    • Small bowel obstruction secondary to adhesions caused by previous surgeries, intussusception, hernias, benign or malignant neoplasms
    • Large bowel obstruction caused by colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, volvulus, fecal impaction or hernia
  • Vascular: occlusive intestinal ischemia, usually caused by thromboembolism of the superior mesenteric artery


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