What’s Causing Your Abdominal Pain?

May 18, 2022


Identify the source of your discomfort.

Abdominal pain is common and one of the most difficult ailments to diagnose, says Mary Irwin, a family nurse practitioner at Adventist Health Feather River. Being able to communicate where the pain is and what it feels like can help get you a diagnosis.


Peptic ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach or the top of the small intestine. They can result from a bacterial infection, prolonged use of anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen, or tobacco and alcohol use.

Feels like: A dull or burning sensation in the stomach, heartburn and bloating


Appendicitis is inflammation of the small organ that sits just off the large intestine in the lower right abdomen. Most cases can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early. However, people often delay care, so appendicitis isn’t discovered until it is advanced and the appendix must be removed, Irwin says.

Feels like: Sudden pain that begins near the bellybutton and moves lower and to the right


Some people develop pouches inside the colon with age, and these can become infected. The infection is called diverticulitis.

Feels like: Pain on the lower left side, accompanied by fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

People who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome have digestive tracts that react to stress or certain substances, Irwin says.

Feels like: Pain or cramping in the lower abdomen that’s typically worse after eating, accompanied by diarrhea, constipation or a combination of both