Severe Abdominal Pain

What is it and what causes it?

Abdominal pain is something that nearly everyone experiences from time to time. It can range from a mild stomach ache to sharp pain or stomach cramps. Most of the causes of this pain are not serious and can be readily diagnosed and treated. However, severe, persistent pain can be a sign of a serious illness or something that needs to be treated urgently. Here are some of the most common causes of severe abdominal pain:

  • Stomach flu
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Food poisoning/food allergies
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Ulcers
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Kidney stones
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Appendicitis

Signs & symptoms that are cause for concern

If your abdominal pain is severe and is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible. These symptoms can be an indication of an internal problem that requires treatment as soon as possible.

  • Fever
  • Inability to keep food down for several days
  • Inability to pass stool, especially if you are also vomiting
  • Bloody stool or vomit
  • Painful or unusually frequent urination
  • Pain that lasts for several days

What do I do?

Treating abdominal pain depends on its cause. This can include medications for inflammation or ulcers, antibiotics for infections, or changes in personal behavior for pain caused by certain foods or beverages. In some cases such as appendicitis, surgery is necessary.


Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service (GERMS)
Village C West 206
(202) 687-4357

Student Health Center
Darnall Hall Ground Floor
To make an appt: (202) 687-2200

After hours clinician on-call: (202) 444-7243

Georgetown University Hospital
3800 Reservoir Road
Emergency Room
Call 911