Everyone has experienced stomach pain at some point in their life. Often the cause is obvious, such as a stomach bug or too many sit ups at the gym, and the symptoms will disappear in a day or two. Sometimes, however, the cause of a stomach ache isn’t clear, and this can be quite unnerving. There are a few clues when assessing the cause of a stomach ache, and one of these clues is the location. If your stomach ache is in a particular area of the stomach, or abdomen, you can eliminate other causes and narrow down to the cause. One such type of stomach ache dictated by the area of the abdomen is called epigastric pain.
The upper part of your abdomen, which sits below your rib cage, is known as the epigastrium. Your pancreas sits within the epigastrium, as well as parts of your small intestine, stomach and liver. Pain or discomfort below your ribs in this area of the upper abdomen is called epigastric pain. As well as the epigastric pain you also may get some other symptoms including heartburn (indigestion), stomach bloating and excess gas (trapped wind).
The Isabel symptom checker can help you understand your epigastric pain symptom and research possible causes to discuss further with your healthcare provider. Place all your symptoms, even if they seem unrelated, into the symptom checker, and select the different possibilities to research each diagnosis further, then discuss your findings with your doctor.
Due to the body organs located within the epigastric area, epigastric pain is commonly caused by:
Causes not linked to the organs within the epigastric area include:
Due to many organs being present in the epigastric area, identifying the cause of the epigastric pain can be difficult, especially as many of the diseases share the same symptoms. The Isabel Symptom Checker can help you evaluate all the symptoms you are experiencing and research the causes and where to present for care, so that your health provider can decide what next steps to take in order to ensure you receive a timely diagnosis and explanation for your symptoms.
Epigastric pain risk factors include a history of peptic ulcer disease, consumption of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including aspirin, heavy alcohol consumption, and overeating.
Before your consultation with you doctor, think about the following questions they may ask you:
It is often difficult to differentiate epigastric pain from other causes of stomach pain. Symptoms can radiate so the pain you are experiencing may be in a different part of your abdomen. If you experience a sudden severe stomach pain or a pain that feels tearing or ripping, then you should seek emergency care straight away. Other symptoms accompanying the stomach pain which should be treated as requiring urgent attention include vomiting, bloody diarrhea or fever. If you feel your symptoms are persistent or worsening, then you can place your symptoms into the Isabel Symptom Checker and you should seek care.
Mandy has been with Isabel since 2000. Prior to this, she worked as a senior staff nurse on the Pediatric Infectious Disease ward at one of London's top hospitals, St Mary’s in Paddington. Her experience in the healthcare industry means she's a vital resource for our organisation.