Stabbing, throbbing, aching, or turning. Stomach pain comes in a few varieties. When is it time to seek medical attention for severe stomach pain, and when can you handle it at home?

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.

The abdomen holds several different organs, and any one may be the source of your pain, making it difficult to pinpoint a cause. Here are some basic guidelines to help you know when a stomach ache is an emergency.

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Signs You Should Seek Care for Stomach or Abdominal Pain

Sudden, severe pain

Go the emergency room if you have severe abdominal pain that comes on suddenly and lasts for more than a few minutes.

Pain that gradually increases in severity

See a doctor if you feel pain that is localized to one area of your abdomen, particularly if that pain increases over time.

Vomiting blood or passing bloody or tar-like stool

These symptoms, especially when accompanied by abdominal pain, require immediate attention.

Abdominal pain accompanied by chest, shoulder, or neck pain

These symptoms may indicate a heart attack and require immediate treatment at an emergency department.

For help finding immediate care near you, visit UPMC CareFinder. Locate a UPMC Emergency Department, UPMC Urgent Care, Walk-in Primary Care, or Children’s Express Care that’s close to you. You can also receive an online medical visit with UPMC AnywhereCare. No appointment is needed.

Editor's Note: This gallery was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .