Several conditions can cause upper stomach or upper abdominal pain, including indigestion, gas, and gastritis. Treatment for upper stomach pain depends on the cause, but medications and diet changes often help.
Stomachaches are a common complaint. While many issues responsible for upper stomach pain, such as gas or a stomach virus, are not cause for concern, others may require medical treatment.
In this article, learn about ten possible causes of upper stomach pain, as well as treatment options and when to see a doctor.
Gas occurs naturally in the intestines and digestive tract. When this gas accumulates, it can cause feelings of pressure, bloating, or fullness.
Gas usually goes away without treatment within a few hours. If it occurs with a fever, uncontrolled vomiting, or intense pain, it is best to see a doctor.
Gas pain is not usually serious, and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can help. A person can also try eating more slowly to avoid swallowing air and prevent the gas from getting worse. Some people notice that certain foods are more likely to cause gas pain.
The medical term for indigestion is dyspepsia. It usually appears when there is too much acid in the stomach, which can happen after eating highly acidic foods. It can cause a burning feeling in the upper stomach and sometimes in the mouth or throat. The pain may also feel like it stems from the chest.
OTC medicines are highly effective at managing temporary indigestion. Identifying the triggers, such as certain foods, can help a person make healthful lifestyle changes.
Acute gastritis occurs in the short term and comes on quickly, usually because of a bacterial infection, such as with Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Gastritis causes the stomach lining to become swollen and painful.
Causes of chronic gastritis include:
Antibiotics can usually treat bacterial infections. When gastritis is chronic, diagnosing and treating the underlying cause can help.
Gastroenteritis is a stomach virus that can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, in addition to upper stomach pain. Some people call gastroenteritis the stomach flu, but it is not actually a type of flu.
For most people, symptoms go away on their own within a few days. Avoiding heavy meals and drinking only clear liquids can help a person stop vomiting.
It is vital to avoid dehydration, so consider drinking something that restores electrolytes until the symptoms pass.
Many muscles extend to the upper stomach. Pain from a mild muscle injury or spasms can cause temporary pain in the upper abdomen.
The pain often gets better with gentle massage and rest. Some people also find relief by using cold and hot packs.
Appendicitis is an infection of the appendix. Without treatment, it can cause the appendix to rupture, and the condition can become life threatening.
In the early stages of appendicitis, a person may notice a dull ache around their belly button, but this pain can radiate to the upper stomach. As the infection gets worse, the pain moves to the lower-right side.
A blockage from a gallstone can cause intense pain in the upper-right stomach, as well as vomiting, fatigue, and exhaustion.
In some cases, surgery is necessary to resolve problems from gallstones. For example, if gallstones block the cystic duct, then a doctor will remove the gallbladder.
If gallstones block the common bile duct, then an Endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP) may be needed to help extract them. This involves inserting a thin camera and other implements down your throat to manipulate and resolve the blockage.
The liver, pancreas, and gallbladder work together to support digestion. All three organs are in the upper-right side of the stomach.
Sometimes, untreated gallstones block biliary ducts, causing pain in the liver or pancreas.
Liver diseases, such as hepatitis, can cause liver pain. Pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas, may also cause pain. Some other causes, such as liver or pancreatic cancer, are less likely.
The right treatment depends on the underlying cause. People with pancreatitis may need to stay in the hospital for fluids and observation. Liver diseases require medication, and a liver transplant can treat advanced liver disease.
A bowel obstruction blocks the intestines, making it difficult or impossible for anything to pass through. This can cause intense pain, constipation, and difficulty digesting and absorbing food.
A bowel obstruction is a medical emergency, as the bowel can tear or become seriously infected. Medications, fluid, and pain relievers often help. In some cases, a surgeon may need to remove the blockage.
Small pouches called diverticula can appear in the intestines, especially in the colon. The presence of these pouches is known as diverticulosis.
When these pouches become inflamed or infected, a person can develop intense abdominal pain. Inflammation of the diverticular is known as diverticulitis.
The location of the pain depends on where the diverticula are. While diverticula are more common in the lower intestines, they can also appear in the upper intestines, causing pain in the upper stomach.
Probiotics and a high fiber diet often help treat diverticulitis. Antibiotics have been traditionally used to treat diverticulitis, but emerging recommendations suggest supportive care only in uncomplicated diverticulitis
If the infection worsens or does not go away, a doctor may perform surgery to remove the diverticula or a part of the intestines.
In most cases, it is safe to wait and see if upper stomach pain goes away without treatment. If the pain persists or gets worse, it is best to see a doctor.
See a doctor within 24 hours if:
Go to the emergency room or seek urgent care if:
Below are frequently asked questions about the causes of abdominal pain.
Pain in the upper part of the abdomen can have many causes, including:
Seek immediate medical help if upper abdominal pain becomes severe, long lasting, or follows a direct injury to the area. If upper abdominal pain accompanies changes in stool color, fatigue, or severe dehydration, it is also essential to visit an emergency room.
Treatments to relieve upper abdominal pain depend on the cause. For example, a person can often relieve the pain from indigestion with OTC antacids, while pain from viral infections requires hydration and rest.
Abdominal pain can be a minor inconvenience or so intense that it makes functioning difficult. It is important to pay attention to other symptoms before deciding whether medical attention is necessary.
In many cases, especially those due to minor infections or gas, upper stomach pain will disappear in a few hours or days.
There are numerous features to consider when choosing a portable oxygen concentrator, but there are a few particularly important details to think about when browsing your options.
While stationary oxygen concentrators deliver a continuous flow of oxygen, portable oxygen concentrators can either provide a continuous flow or a pulse mode, explains Bacheler. Pulse mode portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) can only be used by those using nasal cannulas who have enough breathing power to trigger the device to deliver a pulse of oxygen. People with tracheostomies (a surgical opening in the neck into the trachea) or very poor breathing ability need a continuous flow portable oxygen concentrator. Some POCs feature both pulse dose and continuous flow settings.
It’s also important to consider the amount of oxygen needed, says Bacheler. Pulse mode POCs can typically deliver 1 to 6 liters of oxygen per minute, though some small ones are limited to 3 liters per minute. Continuous flow POCs can only provide 1 to 3 liters of oxygen per minute.
Batteries on pulse mode POC devices have a much longer life than those on continuous flow concentrators, according to Bacheler.
All portable concentrators have a car charger, he notes, but airplanes don’t “have enough power to operate a POC, so the user needs to have enough batteries to operate the POC for the duration of a flight.” Many airlines require passengers to have enough battery life for 150% of a planned flight time as a safety precaution to avoid emergencies. If you use a continuous flow portable oxygen concentrator, that could mean traveling with an additional 20 to 30 pounds of batteries, says Bacheler.
Portable oxygen concentrators range in weight from about 5 to 20 pounds, says Bacheler. Smaller concentrators have a lower oxygen capacity, so it’s usually best to opt for a larger device if you need a lot of supplemental oxygen. Consider how often you travel and what size would best fit your lifestyle. If you frequently fly on airplanes, make sure the device you’re considering is approved for air travel before you purchase it.
Biomedical engineering is one of the fastest growing engineering fields; from medical devices and pharmaceuticals to more cutting-edge areas like tissue, genetic, and neural engineering, US biomedical engineers (BMEs) boast salaries nearly double the annual mean wage and have faster than average job growth.
Our sister pub, MD+DI has compiled a list of the 10 best cities for job prospects and salaries for biomedical engineers. BMEs in Orange County, Calif., home of medtech giant Edwards Lifesciences, for example, have an annual mean wage of $118,440 -- nearly 30% higher than the national mean.
Head over to MD+DI for the full list.
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Design engineers, New England's premier design and manufacturing event, Design & Manufacturing New England, will take place in Boston, May 6-7, 2015. A Design News event, Design & Manufacturing New England is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on with the latest technologies, be informed, and expand your network. Learn more here.
There are several types of mobility scooters, including:
Travel scooters are usually smaller than other scooters, and since they’re made for easy transport, they’re lightweight and can be disassembled easily and stored in a car trunk. “Smaller scooters have a [travel] range of 8 to 10 miles,” says Black, referring to the distance a person can travel on a single battery charge.
Many small and medium-sized mobility scooters are designed to be taken apart and folded to transport in a car—a big advantage if you relocate often or want to use your scooter in a mall or park. If you’re in the market for a scooter you can take with you, pay particular attention to whether it can be disassembled and the weight of the heaviest part of the scooter. (If it’s too heavy, it won’t be easy for you to lift into your car). Most small and medium-sized scooters come with solid tires.
For people with wide hips or long legs, a medium- to large-size scooter is best, says Black. Large scooters usually have four wheels, are designed for all terrains and have batteries that can travel up to 40 miles before they need to be recharged, he says.
And there’s another advantage: They can hold more weight. How much weight a scooter can carry safely is called “weight capacity” on a spec sheet. “If you weigh more than the capacity, you lose the warranty, and it’s a big liability,” says Black. “The rule is you need to weigh at least 10% less than the weight capacity.”
Large, heavy-duty scooters can carry the most weight and go the longest distance on a single battery charge. Most scooters have a ground clearance of 3 to 5 inches, but some heavy-duty models sit even higher above the ground, making it easy to travel over rough terrain.
A four-wheel scooter may provide a better sense of stability than a three-wheel version, but it may feel restrictive for a person with long legs. “A four-wheel scooter has a fender across the front, which limits someone’s ability to stretch their legs out,” says Black. A three-wheel doesn’t have a fender—just a single wheel in the center, so people with long legs may find that style more comfortable.
The following contains links to social media websites including Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
The Barbie trend continued this week on healthcare social media. @fearlesslyoma and @thedaisysanchez shared their POVs as "Doctor Barbie" and "Surgeon Barbie," respectively. Meanwhile, @livzbihley, @andiinbloom, and @hey_its_emilywilson shared their "Kens" jobs: unemployed (student), hospital, and night hospital.
The Hubert H. Humphrey Building, where the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is housed, went rogue on HHS Twitter this week, defending itself against allegations of being the ugliest building in Washington, D.C.
Pharmacist @millennialrx reacts to a "scary misfill," where a patient received insulin instead of allopurinol.
Both @DGlaucomflecken and @MikkaelSekeres reacted to American Board of Internal Medicine's now-deleted tweet about completing Longitudinal Knowledge Assessment (LKA) questions while on vacation.
According to @DJGould94, Google Docs might need a refresher on grammar.
@asskruss reacted to a viral video in which a patient questioned a diagnosis on his MyChart, explaining that medical billing codes, or ICD-10 codes, can be stigmatizing.
"Nursing students love love!!!" says @kenzie_keeler, while panning to last-semester nursing students smiling with diamond rings.
@misspauuparazzi celebrates her nursing colleague's retirement.
Surgery resident @dr.shanmd faced criticism on TikTok when she shared in her autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) cooking routine that her husband "expects" dinner when he comes home, even on days that she completes a 13-hour residency shift. She defended her marriage in a follow-up video: "I accidentally went viral."
Kamilah Evans, MD, shares her non-traditional path to becoming an ob/gyn.
Getting a manicure? Be cautious of those UV rays! Tiffany Mathias, MD, warns viewers about the potential harm that lamps used in gel manicures can cause and provides solutions for those who don't want to completely provide up on these manicures.
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Children learn basic algebraic thinking using multiplication fact families in this math worksheet. Learners will review definitions and examples of the associative, commutative, distributive, and identity properties. They will then complete seven fill-in-the-blanks problems to practice making 10. Designed for third graders, this worksheet offers a helpful review of properties of multiplication, and their practical application when it comes to equations with products of 10.
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One of the modern marvels in our medical toolkit is ultrasound imaging. One of its drawbacks, however, is that it displays 2D images. How expensive do you think it would be to retrofit an ultrasound machine to produce 3D images? Try a $10 chip and pennies worth of plastic.
While — of all things — playing the Wii with his son, [Joshua Broder, M.D], an emergency physician and associate professor of surgery at [Duke Health], realized he could port the Wii’s gyroscopic sensor to ultrasound technology. He did just that with the help of [Matt Morgan, Carl Herickhoff and Jeremy Dahl] from [Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering] and [Stanford University]. The team mounted the sensor onto the side of the probe with a 3D printed collar. This relays the orientation data to the computer running software that sutures the images together into a complete 3D image in near real-time, turning a $50,000 ultrasound machine into its $250,000 equivalent.
[Dr. Broder] is eager to point out that it compares to MRI and CT imaging in quality, but with fewer issues: it reduces error in interpreting the images, and makes advanced imaging available in rural or developing areas. This is also useful when MRIs and CTs are risky due to medical history or for newborn children, and in critical situations where prep for an MRI or CT would take too much time.
It is entirely possible to hack together your own ultrasound machine, and even add some augmented reality components sure to cause a double-take.
[Thanks for the tip, Kevin Qes Huang!]