Stomach pain in the morning has many possible causes, from mild and temporary digestive problems to more serious gastrointestinal conditions.
Stomach pain is often a vague term and hard to address. To diagnose stomach pain in the morning, being specific about both the location and nature of the pain will help.
Read on for 16 common causes of stomach pain in the morning, and their common symptoms and severity.
The following are some of the more common causes of stomach pain in the morning:
1. Acid reflux and GERD
Acid reflux is a condition where acid and other stomach contents flow the wrong way, moving back into the esophagus. This may cause a burning sensation in the back of the mouth.
The most common acid reflux symptom is heartburn, which affects about 60 million people in the United States at least once a month, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. Someone who has more than two episodes a week may have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can cause complications if not treated.
People with acid reflux may feel pain in their stomachs, usually in the middle of the abdomen.
Gastritis, or an inflammation of the stomach lining, can develop all of a sudden or slowly over time. Pain in the upper abdomen is a common symptom of this condition, as are nausea and feeling full.
Sometimes described as stomach flu, gastroenteritis is a viral or bacterial infection that targets the stomach and bowels. It causes stomach pain and diarrhea.
4. Stomach ulcers
Also known as peptic ulcers, stomach ulcers can cause dull, burning stomach pain in the morning or other times. Peptic ulcers are sores in the stomach lining and the lining of the small intestine closest to the stomach.
Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. It is a common cause of severe and sudden stomach pain that starts around the navel and moves lower. The pain usually gets worse with time. Other symptoms may include nausea and fever. Appendicitis often requires surgery,
6. Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus. This inflammation can cause cramping and stomach pain. Diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, and fatigue are other symptoms of this chronic disease.
Dyspepsia is the medical term for indigestion. Lifestyle choices, such as the type of food a person eats, can cause it, but it can also be related to certain diseases. Stomach pain is the most common symptom associated with indigestion, although people may also suffer from nausea and bloating and get full quickly when they eat.
8. Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that can cause stomach pain, as well as changes in bowel habits. People with IBS may experience frequent constipation and diarrhea, or alternate between the two. They may also feel bloated and have incomplete bowel movements.
9. Abdominal adhesions
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 9 out of 10 people who have open-abdomen surgery develop adhesions, or scar tissue that causes organs to stick to each other and the abdominal wall.
Most people with adhesions do not develop complications, but in those that do, chronic stomach pain is common. Other symptoms include bloating, constipation, and nausea.
10. Food allergies
Stomach pain is a common symptom of food allergies, which affects 4 –6% of children and 4% of adults. Other symptoms include nausea, hives, and potentially fatal anaphylaxis, which interferes with breathing and causes blood pressure drops.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) define constipation as three or fewer bowel movements a week, which may be difficult or painful and feel incomplete. People with constipation may also develop stomach pain. Individuals can usually treat constipation on their own, but if it becomes chronic or other symptoms, such as bleeding or fever develop, see a doctor.
12. Diverticular disease
Diverticular disease, or diverticulosis, affects roughly half the people over age 60. It occurs as segments of the colon bulge outward in pouches. Usually, the pouches do not cause any problems, but if they get infected or inflamed, symptoms may develop. This is known as diverticulitis. People may experience stomach pain (typically on the left side), fever, nausea, and more severe complications.
13. Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection that affects a person’s ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, and cervix. According to the Office on Women’s Health, about 5% of women in the U.S. have PID, and it is most common in women aged 15-24.
The most common symptom is a pain in the lower abdomen. Other symptoms include fever, unusual vaginal discharge, and pain when having sex or urinating. It can cause severe complications if not treated promptly.
14. Celiac disease
Celiac disease is also known as gluten intolerance. This food intolerance causes people’s immune systems to attack their small intestines when they eat anything containing gluten. Wheat, rye, barley, and many other products contain gluten. Symptoms vary, but stomach pain and diarrhea are common.
15. Gallbladder disease
Problems with the gallbladder can cause stomach pain, often in the upper right portion of the abdomen. The pain can come and go for people who have biliary colic. If gallstones are present and blocking ducts in the gallbladder, other symptoms develop, too, such as nausea, vomiting, dark urine, jaundice, and dropping blood pressure.
Pancreatitis develops when the pancreas becomes inflamed, often because of gallstones. Common symptoms include sudden and severe pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, and vomiting. Medical treatment is necessary.
Many different health issues can cause stomach pain in the morning. While some conditions may resolve on their own, others will require immediate treatment. When considering medical attention, things to consider include:
- Severity: If the pain is so bad that the individual cannot stand up, seek medical help immediately. Early symptoms of appendicitis can include pain in the abdomen.
- Duration: The longer an individual has stomach pain in the morning, the more important it is to seek medical treatment.
- Age: Severe stomach pain in younger people could indicate appendicitis. In older people, it may suggest gall bladder problems. Both conditions require prompt medical treatment.
- Speed of onset: Sudden stomach pain is a potential symptom of appendicitis, especially if the pain is getting worse.
- Other symptoms: People with appendicitis may develop a fever along with abdominal pain. Stomach pain alongside nausea can suggest a blockage or other serious condition. Bleeding from the rectum is a possible sign of conditions that require prompt medical treatment.
Many different conditions and diseases can cause stomach pain in the morning.
Most often, people can recover on their own, with self-care. However, this sort of pain is sometimes a symptom of severe health problems that require immediate medical attention.
For persistent, severe stomach pain in the morning alongside other symptoms, speak to a doctor for accurate diagnosis and treatment.