Stomach pain is pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and pelvis. The pain can come from any of your organs such as the gallbladder, pancreas, liver, stomach, or intestines.
Almost everyone gets stomach pain in the morning at one time or another, most of the time it is not serious. The causes of abdominal pain in the morning can be categorized as urgent or non-urgent. Urgent causes are serious and require urgent treatment. Whereas, non-urgent are less serious and immediate treatment is not necessary.
Less serious causes of abdominal pain may include constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, or food poisoning. More serious causes may include appendicitis, a bowel blockage, cancer, or gastroesophageal reflux.
However, the level of stomach pain in the morning does not always reflect the seriousness of the pain. Seeking help from health care professionals is what is recommended.
Causes of Your Stomach Pain in the Morning
Different conditions that cause abdominal pain in the morning include:
1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome is a large intestine disorder that causes uncomfortable abdominal pain associated with constipation, bloating, diarrhea, and gas.
In IBS the GI tract muscle contracts more than the normal contraction causing abnormal movement, and severe and recurrence painful sensation from the gut. (Source – 1)This painful sensation could be one of the main causes of your stomach pain in the morning.
Although, IBS is not a life-threatening disease, the intensity of pain needs urgent treatment.
Eating probiotic product containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Enterococcus faecium could provide a positive effect on abdominal pain. (Source – 2)
Constipation is a condition when you have difficulty passing your stool. It generates a sharp gas pain throughout your abdominal area that could create stomach pain when you wake up in the morning.
Constipation has many possible causes but the common include your lifestyle, medication, and medical conditions.
3. Food Allergy
Food allergy is a condition when your immune system responds after consuming certain food. Sometimes eating foods such as shellfish, nuts, fish, eggs, peanuts, and milk, your immune system mistakes certain proteins in these foods and believes they are harmful to the body. Your body reacts and creates a defense to fight against them.
The symptoms of a food allergy may range from mild to severe and each reaction may be different, causing various allergic reactions including stomach pain in the morning.
Consult a doctor immediately if you experience difficulty in breathing or worsen your symptom.
4. Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is also called a foodborne illness, usually caused by eating contaminated or spoiled foods. These foods contain infectious organisms such as bacteria or viruses when get into your stomach release toxins resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Different infectious organisms take different times to cause abdominal pain. For example, consuming foods containing Bacillus cereus takes 8–16 h to cause stomach pain, whereas C. perfringen causes abdominal pain after 8–22 h of food intake. (Sources – 5, 6)
Most often, food poisoning goes away quickly and needs no treatment. But severe food poisoning needs a medical treatment.
Ensuring adequate hydration is crucial for helping your body fight off food poisoning effects and the most important aspect of treatment you can do at home.
Gallstones are the solid depositions of digestive fluid within the gallbladder, a small organ, situated underneath your liver. These solid depositions can cause sudden and intense abdominal pain in the morning just under the ribs on your right-hand side.
Gallstone pain may last for a few minutes to 5 hours and can spread to the center of your stomach, back, and right shoulder blade.
For some people, gallstones resolve by themselves, but if you have recurring pain accompanied by symptoms such as high fever, jaundice, or diarrhea, consult a doctor to reach the bottom of it.
Indigestion is also known as dyspepsia mainly occurs when you eat too many spicy, fatty, or acidic foods or drink lots of caffeinated or carbonated drinks. (Source – 7) Indigestion can cause upper abdominal pain when you wake up in the morning.
Other symptoms it can create are feeling bloated after a meal, early satiation, burping, acidic taste in your mouth, Nausea, and vomiting.
Although indigestion is a common condition, severe indigestion can cause long-term problems. Contact a specialist if you are having black stools, difficulty breathing, pain in your chest, frequent or bloody vomiting, or yellowing of your eyes or skin. Treatment usually depends upon the underlying condition causing indigestion.
7. Stomach Flu
Stomach flu is a condition of intestinal infection generally caused by coming in contact with an infected person or through contaminated food or water. Bacteria, parasites, toxins, and viruses are the organisms that cause stomach flu, viruses being the most common.
With stomach flu, the main symptoms you may have are stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and a headache.
Depending on the causes stomach flu may range from mild to severe and may last for a little duration or for many days. Although for many people stomach flu recovers on its own, but if you have signs of dehydration, high fever, bloody diarrhea, and severe pain, you should seek a doctor’s help right away.
8. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD is a condition of flowing stomach acid back into the tube connecting the mouth and stomach. This reverse flow can cause upper abdominal pain accompanied by a burning sensation in the chest or throat or heartburn.
Although acid reflux is rarely serious and extremely common among many people, if you have acid reflux and heartburn more than twice a week over a period of several weeks, or have shortness of breath, seek immediate medical help.
Diverticulitis is the inflammation or infection that forms one or more small pouches in the colon. It occurs when waste buildup in your colon puts extra pressure on the walls of the colon. This increased pressure causes the little pouches to form in naturally weak areas in your colon.
It can cause constant and severe abdominal pain, usually in the lower-left side of the abdomen. (Source – 8)
Diverticulitis increases with age, and mostly occurs in people over 40 years of age. It can develop symptoms ranging from mild to severe, mild diverticulitis recover on its own by merely changing diet, and taking rest and antibiotics. Severe or recurring diverticulitis may require immediate medical help.
Consult a doctor if you have severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.
Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas produces enzymes that are essential for digestion and releases hormones to regulate the glucose in your body.
Although there are multiple causes of pancreatitis, the main are gallstones and heavy alcohol use.
Pancreatitis can occur as an acute or chronic, acute pancreatitis appears suddenly and lasts for days. Whereas chronic pancreatitis buildup in many years and can permanently damage your pancreas.
Having pancreatitis can lead to upper abdominal pain that may spread to your back. Other symptoms may include fever, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting.
Seek immediate medical help if you have sudden acute abdominal pain or persistent abdominal pain.
Endometriosis is a painful disorder that occurs when endometrial-like tissues, the tissues that normally line the uterus or womb, grow outside the uterus. It commonly affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining your pelvis.
Women with endometriosis can experience pelvic or lower abdominal pain. (Source – 9) Other symptoms include pain with menstrual periods, pain during or after sexual intercourse, pain with bowel movements or urination.
Although Endometriosis is sometimes mistaken for other similar conditions such as ovarian cysts and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), it’s important to immediately contact your doctor if you have signs and symptoms of endometriosis.
Appendicitis is a condition when the appendix becomes inflamed, infected, or swollen. An appendix is a small organ attached to the large intestine in the lower right side of the abdomen when filled with pus causing pain in the lower right side of the abdomen.
The pain suddenly starts near the navel and shifts to the lower right side of the abdomen. Other symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, swollen belly, nausea, and vomiting.
Although appendicitis is most common between the ages of 11 and 20 years, it can occur at any age. (Source – 10)
Seek immediate medical help if you find any signs or symptoms of appendicitis. The sooner it’s detected, the easier it will be to treat.
Steps to Prevent Abdominal Pain in the Morning
- Drink plenty of clear fluids or water each day.
- Include foods that are high in fiber.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Divide your 3 big meals into 5 – 6 small meals.
- Avoid tea, coffee, and alcohol.
- Exercise regularly.