What Causes Sharp Stomach Pains?
By Neal Kennedy
When people talk about having sharp stomach pains, they may actually be describing pains that don't originate in the organ known as the stomach itself. The words stomach pain are commonly used to describe any discomfort that we feel in the area between the bottom of the breastbone and the groin. Much of this area would be described more accurately as the abdominal region. Be that as it may, most people will use the words stomach pains to describe sharp pains in the area rather than abdominal pains.
In this article, we'll forego describing causes of pain that originate in the lower abdomen - like groin pain and appendicitis - and focus on pain caused by disorders and diseases in the area from the bottom of the ribcage to just below the naval. That still gives us a lot of sharp stomach pain causes to talk about.
Over indulging - The simple act of eating too much or eating too fast may result in stomach discomfort. You may also eat something you shouldn't: certain foods cause allergic reactions in your body, or may just be too hard for your digestive system to handle.
Stomach viruses - Of course, there are temporary stomach illnesses and conditions which may cause sharp stomach pains. These include a stomach virus (commonly called the "stomach flu"), which also tends to produce nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Gastritis - Gastritis is a disorder that is characterized by inflammation or erosion in an area of the stomach lining. Stomach ulcers are a form of gastritis which can actually cause intense, extremely sharp stomach pains.
Acid reflux - Most people are familiar with a condition called heartburn. This condition, also known as acid reflux, occurs when powerful stomach acid erupts past the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus. Since the tissues of the esophagus are considerably more sensitive than stomach lining, part of the esophagus is damaged by the acid. This results in stinging or burning pain.
Cancer - Sadly, many forms of cancer cause no pain until they reach a dangerous phase. But at a certain point, sharp pain is a common sign. Stomach cancer is relatively rare in the United States at the moment, but anyone who has it is likely to experience sharp abdominal pain.
Gallbladder problems - If you suddenly start to feel sharp stomach pains shortly after you have a rich, fatty, high cholesterol meal, you may be having a gallbladder attack. Gallbladder problems generally occur when too much cholesterol enters the gallbladder all at once, and the gallbladder has trouble processing it properly. A gallbladder attack not only causes sharp stomach pains, but can also trigger pains in the side and the back between the shoulder blades.
Gallstones, another form of gallbladder trouble, can cause severe discomfort in the upper abdomen too.
Liver trouble - There are many different types of liver problems that cause pain in the stomach area. These mainly include cirrhosis and hepatitis, which are forms of liver inflammation. Upper abdominal pain is a common symptom of another liver-related condition called ascites. Ascites occurs when fluid accumulates in the abdominal cavity.
Pancreas problems - Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas and is the leading cause of pain involving the pancreas. The pancreas helps regulate the way the body processes sugar, and when it gets inflamed, it causes sharp pain in the stomach area.
Spleen - Splenomegaly is the medical term for an enlarged spleen. Once you have splenomegaly, it is usually a sign that there is some other underlying disorder or disease. Infection, anemia, or cancer are among the possible causes. A ruptured spleen, which is usually caused by a blow or injury of some type, will result in sharp stomach pains.
Conclusion - This article is intended solely to give you an overview of some possible reasons for sharp stomach pains. In many cases, such pains disappear after a while without treatment. But intense abdominal pain, or moderate stomach pain that persists for more than one day or so, is worth a consultation with your doctor.
For more information on this and related topics, click on sharp stomach pains [http://www.stomach-problems.info/sharp-stomach-pains.html] and stomach problems [http://www.stomach-problems.info].
Neal Kennedy is a retired radio and television reporter with a special interest in medical topics.