5 Potentially Serious Causes of Abdominal Pain

5 Potentially Serious Causes of Abdominal Pain

Occasional bouts of mild abdominal pain are usually no cause for alarm. If your pain lingers, becomes severe, or flares up regularly, however, it’s time to see a doctor. 

Your abdomen contains important organs that can develop severe conditions that lead to complications. Thankfully, most of these conditions are treatable, especially if you seek care early on.

Dr. Sreelatha Reddy and our team here at Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. in Sugar Land, Texas, provide diagnostics and treatment for underlying causes of abdominal pain. Here, we explore five potentially serious causes.

1. Pancreatitis

Upper abdominal pain can be a sign of pancreatitis, or inflammation of your pancreas. This condition can come on suddenly and last for days or unfold gradually and persist for years.

In addition to abdominal pain, pancreatitis can cause nausea or vomiting, unintended weight loss, greasy or loose stools, and fever. 

While mild pancreatitis may resolve without medical care, severe cases can bring serious complications, such as infections, breathing problems, malnutrition, diabetes, and pancreatic cancer. 

2. Gallbladder disease

Gallbladder disease can cause upper abdominal pain, too, but it tends to linger on the right side. When you have it, your gallbladder may be inflamed, infected, or blocked because of gallstones.

While gallbladder disease is seldom life-threatening, its symptoms can become intense without treatment. 

Gallbladder disease can also cause pain between your shoulder blades, fever, sweating, and vomiting. In severe cases, gallstones can lead to pancreatitis or jaundice, which causes your eyes and skin to turn yellow.

3. Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is common and doesn’t raise your risk for cancer. It can, however, lead to hemorrhoids, poor quality of life, missed days of work, and mood disorders. And if you have anxiety or depression, IBS can make your symptoms worse. 

IBS impacts your colon, or large intestine, bringing on abdominal cramps and bloating. You may also experience constipation, diarrhea, or a mix of these two. 

4. Colon cancer

Colon cancer starts in your large intestine and most often affects older adults. Colon cancer tends to start as small, noncancerous clumps of cells known as polyps, which can grow into cancer if they aren’t removed during a colonoscopy.

Colon cancer doesn’t usually cause noticeable symptoms at first. When symptoms do arise, they may include ongoing abdominal pain, cramps, or discomfort. You may also notice blood or other changes in your stool, weakness or fatigue, and unintended weight loss. 


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic condition in which you experience persistent bouts of acid reflux, when stomach acid flows back into your esophagus. GERD can cause abdominal pain, as well as heartburn and nausea. 

If it goes untreated, GERD can lead to problems in your esophagus, such as inflammation, narrowing, an ulcer, or changes that raise your risk for cancer.

To learn more about what’s causing your abdominal pain or get the care you need, call Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. today or request an appointment through our website.

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