Learn more about the symptoms of severe stomach pain

Stomach Pain: When to Worry About Stomach Ache

Everyone gets a stomach ache — or abdominal pain — from time to time. Usually, stomach pains are harmless conditions caused by overeating, gas, or indigestion. Frequent or recurring stomach pain is often due to stress and worry, even in children. But can point to more serious medical problems like pancreatic diseases.

Harmless abdominal pain usually subsides or goes away within two hours. If you have the stomach flu, your stomach may hurt before each episode of vomiting or diarrhea. In serious cases, the pain worsens or becomes constant.

This diagram illustrates the types of abdominal conditions you may have based on the location of the pain.

Learn about when you should seek medical care for stomach pain.

According to gastroenterologists at UPMC, you should call your primary care physician if mild pain lasts more than a couple of days, or if the pain is accompanied by other symptoms.

Get medical help immediately if:

  • You have abdominal pain that is very sharp, severe, and sudden.
  • You also have pain in the chest, neck, or shoulder.
  • You’re vomiting blood or have bloody diarrhea.
  • Your abdomen is stiff, hard, and tender to the touch.
  • You can’t move your bowels, especially if you’re also vomiting.

Bottom line: Trust your gut! Contact your doctor if you’re concerned about lingering or unusual stomach pain.