Possible causes of stomach pain and nausea include gastroenteritis, gastritis, and the side effects of some medications. Treatment will depend on the cause.

Stomach pain and nausea can be either acute or chronic. Acute means that symptoms are short-lived and may come on suddenly. Chronic means that the condition is persistent.

This article examines some of the acute and chronic causes of stomach pain and nausea. It also discusses self-care, when to see a doctor, medical treatment, complications, and prevention.

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Stomach inflammation, intestinal obstructions, and other physical disruptions can all cause short-term stomach pain and nausea. in many cases, these instances of pain and nausea are short-lived and self-limiting. Possible causes include:

Typically, these acute stomach pain and nausea bouts will pass with time and rest. In the case of allergic or irritant nausea and pain, removal of the offending substance will help.

If medications are causing stomach pain and nausea, a person may need to discontinue them. However, people should discuss medication discontinuation with a health professional before doing so.


Gastroenteritis is most commonly due to a viral infection. However bacteria, fungi, and parasites can also cause it.

Viral gastroenteritis usually lasts less than a week and gets better without medical treatment. The most common cause of viral gastroenteritis is norovirus, but rotavirus infection is often the cause of this condition in infants and young children.

Gastroenteritis can also result from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.

Causes of chronic stomach pain and nausea can include:


Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. This inflammation can be acute or chronic. In addition to stomach pain and nausea, gastritis can also cause vomiting.

An infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria and frequent use of NSAIDs are the most common causes of gastritis. Other causes include damage to the stomach lining, often from alcohol, and other infections.

Intestinal obstruction

Intestinal obstruction can cause stomach pain, vomiting, bloating, and constipation. Intestinal obstructions can lead to serious complications if a person does not receive treatment.

Causes of intestinal obstructions can include:

Functional gastrointestinal disorders

These are a group of disorders in which the gastrointestinal tract does not work as it should, and there are visible structural problems.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional dyspepsia are examples of functional gastrointestinal disorders.

IBS can cause abdominal pain or cramps as well as bloating and either diarrhea or constipation. The symptoms of functional dyspepsia can include pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, and vomiting.

Other chronic causes

Other causes of chronic stomach pain and nausea can include the following:

  • pregnancy can cause nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain, particularly in the early stages
  • central nervous system problems, including migraine headaches, intracranial pressure, seizures, and strokes, can cause nausea
  • inner ear problems, such as infections and inflammation, can cause dizziness and nausea

Stomach pain and nausea are often short-lived and get better on their own. However, persistent symptoms may be a sign of a more serious condition.

People should see a doctor if their indigestion, which can cause symptoms such as stomach pain and nausea, lasts for more than 2 weeks.

People should see a doctor right away if any of the following symptoms accompany abdominal discomfort:

  • frequent vomiting or blood in the vomit
  • diarrhea that lasts for more than 2 days
  • bloody or black and tarry stools
  • pain in the chest, arm, neck, or jaw
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • unexplained weight loss
  • dehydration
  • inability to pass gas
  • severe constipation

Stomach pain and nausea usually resolve without treatment in a few days. However, resting and drinking plenty of fluids can aid recovery.

People experiencing frequent diarrhea, vomiting, or both will need to replace lost fluids and electrolytes to avoid dehydration. Drinks that can help with this include:

  • water
  • clear broths
  • sports drinks
  • fruit juices

The type of medical treatment for stomach pain and nausea will generally depend on the underlying cause and the severity of the symptoms.

For people with severe diarrhea or vomiting, a doctor may prescribe an oral rehydration solution to treat dehydration. They may also prescribe antiemetics, which are drugs that can help counteract nausea and vomiting.

If a doctor suspects that a person may have gastritis or another type of gastrointestinal disorder, they may order medical tests, such as an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy.

People with gastritis due to H. pylori infection will likely have to complete a course of antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors.

Dehydration is a common complication of conditions that cause severe vomiting or diarrhea. Signs of dehydration can include:

  • thirst
  • dry mouth
  • fatigue
  • dark urine and urinating less than normal
  • no tears when crying
  • sunken cheeks or eyes
  • feeling lightheaded or dizzy

Other potential complications of stomach pain and nausea depend on the underlying cause. For example, anemia is a possible complication of erosive gastritis, due to the chronic bleeding that the condition causes in the stomach.

Viral gastroenteritis and food poisoning are common causes of stomach pain and nausea. Good hygiene can help prevent these health issues.

Good hygiene is key to avoiding many germs that can cause stomach pain and nausea. People can try adopting the following practices as standard:

  • washing the hands frequently with soap and water, particularly after using the bathroom and before and after handling food
  • storing, cleaning, and preparing food carefully and correctly
  • cooking or reheating food thoroughly
  • disinfecting contaminated surfaces
  • handling soiled clothes and bedding carefully and always washing them thoroughly

Stomach pain and nausea are common symptoms in both adults and children. Causes can include overeating, intestinal infections, stress and anxiety, and chronic gastrointestinal disorders.

Stomach pain and nausea are usually short-lived and get better on their own. However, people with persistent symptoms should see a doctor for an evaluation.

Stomach pain and nausea should be assessed in light of additional symptoms as well, such as inability to pass gas and constipation, which can be signs of a bowel obstruction and typically require immediate assistance.

It is important for people whose symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Individuals with symptoms of dehydration should seek prompt medical care.