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Stomach ache

Most stomach aches are not anything serious and will go away after a few days.

Common causes of stomach ache

These are some common types of stomach ache and what may be causing them. But see a GP if you're unsure and worried.

Symptoms of different types of stomach ache and possible causes.
Type of stomach ache Possible condition
Feeling bloated, farting a lot Trapped wind (flatulence)
Feeling full and bloated after eating, heartburn, feeling sick Indigestion
Cannot poo Constipation
Watery poo, feeling sick, vomiting Stomach bug or food poisoning

A pharmacist can help with stomach ache

Speak to a pharmacist about:

  • what might be causing your stomach ache
  • treatments that might help
  • medicines for constipation and indigestion

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • a stomach ache gets much worse quickly
  • stomach pain or bloating will not go away or keeps coming back
  • you have stomach pain and problems with swallowing food
  • you're losing weight without trying to
  • you suddenly pee more often or less often
  • peeing is suddenly painful
  • you bleed from your bottom or vagina, or have abnormal discharge from your vagina
  • you have diarrhoea that does not go away after a few days

Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • a stomach ache came on very suddenly or is severe
  • it hurts when you touch your stomach
  • you're vomiting blood or your vomit looks like ground coffee
  • your poo is bloody or black and sticky and extremely smelly
  • you cannot pee
  • you cannot poo or fart
  • you cannot breathe
  • you have chest pain
  • you have diabetes and you're vomiting
  • someone has collapsed
What we mean by severe pain
Severe pain:
  • always there and so bad it's hard to think or talk
  • you cannot sleep
  • it's very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress
Moderate pain:
  • always there
  • makes it hard to concentrate or sleep
  • you can manage to get up, wash or dress
Mild pain:
  • comes and goes
  • is annoying but does not stop you doing daily activities

Other causes of stomach ache

Do not self-diagnose. See a GP if you're worried.

Other possible causes of a stomach ache
Type of stomach ache Possible condition
Pain and cramps when you have your period Period pain
Sudden pain in the lower right-hand side Appendicitis
Ongoing cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Bad ongoing pain that can go down to your groin, nausea, pain when peeing Kidney stones
Severe pain that lasts for hours in the centre of your tummy or just under the ribs on the right-hand side Gallstones

Page last reviewed: 15 July 2020
Next review due: 15 July 2023