Severe abdominal pain: what helps against it?

Starke Bauchschmerzen: Was hilft dagegen?

Anyone who has ever had a stomach ache knows that tummy ache is extremely uncomfortable. But treating abdominal pain is not always easy, because the pain can have a wide variety of causes that are not always obvious.

An upset stomach, stress or your period - abdominal pain has many causes. Stomach pain is usually so uncomfortable that you want to know how to get rid of it as quickly as possible. We show you home remedies for abdominal pain and what the most common reasons for the pain are.

the essentials in brief

  • Pressure, stabbing, rumbling, or cramps of varying intensity in the abdominal area, continuous or wavy. Source of pain often difficult to pinpoint. Depending on the location, abdominal pain indicates various causes.
  • In the event of sudden, very severe and persistent abdominal pain, bloody stools, fever or fainting, a doctor should be informed immediately.
  • Inflammation, infections, an unbalanced intestinal flora or food intolerance can trigger the symptoms. Depending on the cause, e.g. B. with home remedies (tea, hot water bottle, relaxation, etc.), medication, sometimes by surgery.

Background: What you should know about severe abdominal pain

Abdominal pain is very individual. This is not least due to the fact that everyone has a different perception of pain. However, the intensity is also largely determined by the underlying cause. Here you will find the most important information about the types, causes, symptoms and localization of abdominal pain.

How to diagnose bowel problems?

Above all, the type and duration of the symptoms and the previous medical history must be analyzed. Among other things, information on the following questions is important:

  • Did the pain come on suddenly (acutely)? Or did they only develop gradually (subacute)?
  • Have certain connections been observed, for example between the consumption of certain foods and the occurrence of abdominal pain?
  • How are the complaints expressed? Is it stabbing pain or rather cutting, boring or spasmodic? Are there any other symptoms?
  • Is it right-sided abdominal pain or is it more likely to affect the left side?
  • Could you be pregnant or have you recently given birth?

Since many diseases of the abdominal organs become noticeable in certain regions, specifying the exact pain area (right or left) is helpful when making a diagnosis.

First there is a physical examination. The doctor will feel the abdomen and look for hardening or painful areas. The abdomen is also listened to with a stethoscope for bowel sounds. In difficult cases, a laboratory test is necessary.

The analysis of the blood values ​​provides information about a possible organ disease and also about possible inflammation. Furthermore, stool and urine are examined for blood, pathogens and possible signs of inflammation.

Imaging methods also play an important role in the diagnosis of diseases (4). Possible pathological changes in the abdomen can be detected by means of ultrasound. If the doctor treating you considers it necessary, a gastroscopy and/or a colonoscopy can also be performed. This examination can include a biopsy (taking a tissue sample) as well as minor surgical interventions.

Diseases of the abdominal organs are also examined with a laparoscopy (abdominal endoscopy). A very small camera is inserted into the abdominal cavity.

A hydrogen breath test provides information about possible food intolerance, for example to carbohydrates such as fructose or lactose.

What are the accompanying symptoms of abdominal pain?

In addition to the actual symptom "stomach ache", there are other side effects that can occur at the same time. Stomach pain and nausea and stomach pain and diarrhea are just a few examples.

Other accompanying symptoms include bloating (particularly with abdominal pain after a meal), gas, distension, weight loss, vomiting, stool color change, and acid regurgitation or heartburn (2).

What does the intestinal flora have to do with it?

There is a delicate ecosystem in the gut. Doctors refer to it as the microbiome. In fact, there is a lot of hustle and bustle in the largest internal organ in the human body. Numerous micro-organisms balance each other out here.

It's normal for the gut flora to consist of good and bad bacteria. The good microorganisms ensure that nutrients are broken down and protect the organism from the spread of pathogenic invaders.

However, the sensitive microcosm can be permanently disturbed, for example by taking antibiotics. Studies show that stress can also affect the remarkable culture in the stomach.

Woman touches her stomach

When the delicate balance of bacteria and the digestive tract are out of whack, abdominal pain can result. (Image Source: Unsplash / Ava Sol)

When the delicate balance of bacteria and the digestive tract are out of whack, abdominal pain can result. Diarrhea and abdominal pain can also result.

What are the causes of abdominal pain in the upper abdomen?

Pain in the upper abdomen can originate from organs located there. These include: stomach, duodenum, liver, gallbladder, spleen and pancreas. But the heart and lungs can also cause pain that extends to the upper abdomen.

Possible causes of upper abdominal pain:

  • Inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis)
  • heartburn (reflux)
  • Stomach ulcer or duodenal ulcer (Ulcus ventriculi, Ulcus duodeni)
  • irritable stomach
  • Liver disorders (e.g. cirrhosis or jaundice)
  • gallstones
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Heart disease (e.g. angina pectoris or heart attack)
  • abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • lung infection
  • Vertebral problems (e.g. vertebral fracture or thoracic vertebral blockage)
  • Cancer (e.g. liver cancer or stomach cancer)
  • Porphyria (metabolic diseases)

What are the causes of abdominal pain in the lower abdomen?

Pain in the lower abdomen (below the navel) often originates in the intestines. The organs of the urogenital system (urinary and genital apparatus) can also be considered for lower abdominal complaints (7). Possible causes of pain in the lower abdomen:

  • Chronic inflammatory bowel disease (e.g. ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease)
  • Appendicitis (Appendicitis)
  • urinary tract infections
  • Renal colic (e.g. due to kidney stones or inflammation of the renal pelvis)
  • Inflamed protuberances of the intestinal wall (diverticulitis)
  • Gynecological diseases (e.g. fallopian tube inflammation, endometriosis or ectopic pregnancy)
  • menstrual cramps
  • hernia
  • Inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis)

What are the causes of abdominal pain all over the abdomen?

Abdominal pain is common. It is rarely possible to say exactly which part hurts. Many diseases cause problems in the entire abdominal area. The background can be harmless flatulence, but also acute or even life-threatening diseases (1). Possible causes of abdominal pain:

  • gastrointestinal infection
  • Intestinal obstruction (ileus)
  • Intestinal infarction (mesenteric infarction)
  • Inflammation of the peritoneum (peritonitis)
  • Stress (can lead to gastrointestinal cramps, nausea and indigestion)

Abdominal pain can often be localized to a specific area, which can provide doctors with valuable clues as to the cause. Caution: The location of the pain does not always correspond to the location of its origin!

To the right center Left
Gallstone colic, hepatitis Reflux disease, esophagitis, gastritis gastritis, pancreatitis
Kidney stones Irritable stomach, gastric ulcer, pancreatitis diverticulitis, kidney stones
Appendicitis, hernia Bladder infection, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease Diverticulitis, hernia

Can food intolerances and medication also be the cause?

Anyone who struggles with the symptoms again and again could also have a food intolerance or food allergy. The complaints occur repeatedly after eating selected foods such as fructose, lactose, nuts or even tomatoes.

Allergic skin symptoms such as itching also indicate a food intolerance or food allergy. Therefore, if you have a stomach ache after eating, it is worth paying attention.

In addition to food, medication is also suspected to be a trigger for abdominal pain. They can irritate the sensitive stomach lining and cause uncomfortable discomfort (6). For example, many patients report abdominal pain after taking antibiotics or osteoporosis medication.

Can abdominal pain be chronic?

Yes. Anyone who suffers from prolonged abdominal pain has usually already had at least one or even several visits to the doctor with a physical examination. That's right, because abdominal pain can be triggered by a wide variety of diseases.

If the pain lasts longer than 1 week or keeps coming back, the doctor should be consulted. If no organic cause has been identified, it is referred to as functional abdominal pain (9). Although these are harmless, they can cause a high level of suffering in those affected. In this case, the chronic abdominal pain is often triggered by flatulence or it occurs as cramping pain.

Is there a connection between psychosomatic problems and abdominal pain?

Colic abdominal pain can even be traced back to the head. After all, body and mind are irrevocably linked. Or rather body and microbiome. Experts therefore speak of a so-called abdominal brain that simply cannot rest under stress.

What is meant by this is a network of nerves, also known as the enteric nervous system, which runs through the organs of the digestive tract and is triggered by signals from our intestinal flora, among other things

Amazing but true: There is actually a nerve in the human body that serves as a data superhighway. However, this information highway is not a one-way street. Signals are sent back and forth between the intestinal flora and the brain via the so-called vagus nerve.

This could also be the reason why mental stress leads to digestive problems. Doctors refer to this as psychosomatic complaints. The fact that the stomach and the psyche are connected has become increasingly clear in recent years of research.

And especially nowadays, when stress is often the trigger for abdominal pain and abdominal cramps, this fact is becoming increasingly important. In order to do something about the symptoms in the long term, it can help to relax the stomach and intestines and try out various techniques to build up self-confidence .

What are the alarm or emergency symptoms?

Persistent or repeated vomiting; Vomiting blood, black-colored ("coffee grounds") or even stool, bloody diarrhea, sudden bleeding from the intestine, vagina or urethra, stool or urine blockage, shortness of breath, high fever, chills and circulatory problems or fainting are the most dangerous symptoms , where you should definitely consult a doctor (5).

Severe abdominal pain: The best tips & tricks against it

Whether it’s stress, meals that are too big or high-fat food: abdominal pain can have many causes. Some home remedies are suitable to alleviate problems in the stomach and intestines such as abdominal cramps. But which home remedies for stomach pain help best?


Place a hot water bottle or warm cereal pillow on the painful part of your abdomen. In the form of a hot-water bottle, a cherry pit pillow or a wrap, heat quickly relieves abdominal cramps in most cases.

Woman holds a plant in her hand

In addition to food, medication is also suspected to be a trigger for abdominal pain. They can irritate the sensitive stomach lining and cause unpleasant symptoms. (Image Source: Unsplash / Frank Flores)

Contact with heat inhibits the pain receptors in the abdomen - the pain is therefore no longer perceived as so severe (8).

abdominal massages

You lie down in bed for five minutes at a time on your back, left side, stomach and then right side. Digestion is supported with the help of gravity and stomach and intestinal problems are solved.

In addition to the Rollkur, a gentle abdominal massage can also help with pain. To do this, lie down and massage your stomach in a clockwise direction, starting from the navel. Massage your abdomen for three to five minutes. To increase the calming effect, you can use an essential oil, such as chamomile.

herbal teas

Various teas, which have an antispasmodic and/or stomach-soothing effect, are also suitable for complaints in the gastrointestinal area. However, the tea should not be heavily sweetened in favor of gastrointestinal compatibility.

Especially with flatulence, but also with other symptoms and abdominal pain, the herbs are a good way to relax the stomach and intestines. They are available individually or in combination in the form of teas - both variants are suitable as home remedies for stomach ache.

Fennel, aniseed, caraway, ginger or chamomile tea have a calming effect on your digestive system. Teas made from fennel, anise, caraway, chamomile, nettle or yarrow can also have a stomach-soothing and pain-relieving effect on heartburn.

peppermint oil

Tried and tested medicinal plants in the form of modern herbal medicines can provide noticeable relief for functional pain in the gastrointestinal tract. Mint is one of the most effective medicinal plants for gastrointestinal complaints and is therefore also known as stomachache herb. The essential oil is located in glandular scales on the leaf surface, its main component is menthol.

Peppermint oil has an analgesic effect because it can bind to the cold receptors. These receptors are also found in the intestinal mucosa. The cold stimulus that is triggered by the coupling of menthol to this receptor blocks the transmission of pain stimuli from the intestine. In addition, peppermint oil has a relaxing effect on the muscles of the intestine. This also relieves abdominal pain caused by cramps.

Lots of drinking

Our body needs enough liquid to digest food. So make sure you drink enough fluids! In the case of flatulence, it is particularly advisable to use still water or warm herbal teas. Sufficient unsweetened drinks support the intestines and normalize intestinal activity. If there is not enough liquid, digestion comes to a standstill. Result: feeling of pressure and fullness with abdominal pain.

light food

If you have problems with your stomach, you should pay special attention to your diet to prevent unnecessary stress on the gastrointestinal tract. The most important thing is to avoid heavy and greasy foods. One should prefer mild food and avoid spicy, very salty, sweet, spicy or greasy foods. Individually intolerable foods should be identified and largely eliminated from the menu.

You should also avoid alcohol, coffee and cigarettes. Alcohol, nicotine and coffee in particular are very irritating to the gastric mucosa and should be avoided in such cases (3).

It is better to eat several small meals than to eat large portions at once, to eat mindfully, to take your time, to chew consciously and not to be distracted. Eat easily digestible foods such as potatoes, rice , boiled carrots, bananas , oatmeal, or crispbread. You should also be careful not to season your dishes too much and not to gobble them down too quickly.


Just like a hot water bottle, sporting activity also leads to improved blood circulation in the muscles. This can relieve cramps and relax the muscles.

Gentle forms of exercise such as yoga, Pilates or gymnastics are particularly suitable for abdominal pain. Moderate jogging or swimming are also recommended.

Hot bath

A hot full bath has a pain-relieving effect on stomach problems and relaxes cramped abdominal muscles. Essential oils such as lavender and yarrow are particularly suitable as healing bath additives

Appropriate clothing

If you have abdominal pain, it is important not to wear clothing that is too tight. Tight clothing can cause indigestion because the pressure on the abdomen interferes with digestion. This also narrows the abdomen and can significantly increase the symptoms.

If you have a stomach ache, it is better to wear soft pants with an elastic band and a wide top that does not feel constricted and that gives the irritated abdomen enough space to unfold. If you suffer from abdominal pain more often, you should preferably wear loose, comfortable clothing.


Acupuncture can be helpful for gastrointestinal problems with abdominal pain. According to traditional Chinese medicine, it is possible to release energy blockages in the intestine. Often only a few treatment appointments with an experienced acupuncturist are necessary.

If, for example, there is a so-called weakening of the spleen qi, indigestion and stomach pains can occur. Stomach and Liver Qi are also often imbalanced. The gentle needling can normalize the peristalsis of the stomach and intestines again.


Abdominal pain can also be attributed to an imbalance in the gut. It is particularly important that the good and bad bacteria living there keep the balance. When the intestinal flora is out of kilter, doctors refer to it as dysbiosis. Food allergies, stress and antibiotic treatments can then cause IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating and constipation.

The intestinal flora can be brought back on course with various measures. The focus is on an intestinal-friendly diet and microbiological preparations containing selected strains of bacteria that occur naturally in the human intestine. The formulation ensures that the bacteria are able to multiply and survive even after they have passed through the gastrointestinal tract.


Depending on the cause, drugs that reduce gastric acid production (proton pump inhibitors), laxatives that counteract constipation, or anticonvulsants are used, for example (10). Since abdominal pain, which occurs frequently in particular, can usually be traced back to a specific cause, a holistic approach to therapy is important.

Before taking over-the-counter medicines from the pharmacy against gastrointestinal complaints, a doctor should clarify the cause behind the pain. Accordingly, a targeted drug therapy can be initiated, should this be necessary or useful.

Often, just taking medication is not enough to get the pain under control, but other measures such as a change in diet or similar are necessary.

Medical help

In the case of an acute abdomen (acute abdomen), for example acute constipation with severe abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, nausea and fever, an intestinal obstruction could be present. In this case, an ambulance must be called immediately.

Sudden, severe abdominal pain can be a warning sign of a life-threatening situation. In any case, consult your doctor or call an ambulance if the pain gets worse over a short period of time.

If the symptoms persist for more than two days or if the person concerned feels very weak, a visit to the doctor is also recommended. In addition, abdominal pain and in connection with fever require clarification.


Abdominal pain is not a disease in its own right. They can be an indication of harmless, temporary symptoms as well as life-threatening illnesses. Abdominal pain is a very common symptom that can have many causes.

It is important to know when to see a doctor. Due to the large number of organs in the abdomen and because diseases outside the abdominal cavity can also cause abdominal pain, the differential diagnosis of abdominal pain can be very difficult and often requires clinical, laboratory, imaging and medical-technical procedures.


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