The term stomach cramps is nonspecific and is used to refer to a number of different symptoms or sensations rather than true muscle cramps of the stomach. People often refer to a "stomachache" or "abdominal cramps" to refer to pain that is perceived anywhere in the abdominal area. As such, the list of potential causes is extremely varied. Organs of the abdomen include the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas, and problems or diseases of all of these organs may be the source of pain. Some typical causes of abdominal pain and associated symptoms that arise from the gastrointestinal tract include
- food poisoning,
- lactose intolerance, and
- inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis).
Occasionally, pain may be felt in the abdomen even though it is arising from organs that are close to, but not within, the abdominal cavity, such as conditions involving the lower lungs, kidneys, uterus, or ovaries. These causes can include pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, and pregnancy-related complications.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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