Severe abdominal pain is a greater cause for concern. If it starts suddenly and unexpectedly, it should be regarded as a medical emergency, especially if the pain is concentrated in a particular area. Call your GP as soon as possible or go to your nearest hospital accident and emergency (A&E) department if this is the case.
If you feel pain in the area around your ribs, read about chest pain for information and advice.
Stomach cramps with bloating are often caused by trapped wind. This is a very common problem that can be embarrassing, but is easily dealt with. Your chemist will be able to recommend a product such as buscopan or mebeverine, which can be bought over the counter to treat the problem.
If your stomach cramps have started recently and you also have diarrhoea, the cause may be a tummy bug (gastroenteritis). This means you have a viral or bacterial infection of the stomach and bowel, which should get better without treatment after a few days.
Gastroenteritis may be caused by coming into close contact with someone who’s infected, or by eating contaminated food (food poisoning).
If you have repeated bouts of stomach cramps and diarrhoea, you may have a long-term condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
If you have sudden agonising pain in a particular area of your tummy, call your GP immediately or go to your nearest A&E department. It may be a sign of a serious problem that could rapidly get worse without treatment.
Serious causes of sudden severe abdominal pain include:
If your GP suspects you have one of these conditions, they may refer you to hospital immediately. Sudden and severe pain in your abdomen can also sometimes be caused by an infection of the stomach and bowel (gastroenteritis). It may also be caused by a pulled muscle in your abdomen or by an injury.
See your GP if you or your child have persistent or repeated abdominal pain. The cause is often not serious and can be managed. Possible causes in adults include:
Possible causes in children include:
Source: NHS UK