Complications of Abdominal Pain

Peritonitis is a medical emergency caused by an infection in the abdominal cavity. This condition, which can result from a ruptured organ (e.g., appendix, bowel), often causes sudden, severe abdominal pain, hardness of the abdomen, and fever.

Other complications that can be associated with abdominal pain and should be reported to a physician include the following:

  • Bleeding from the GI tract (e.g., blood in the stool or spitting up blood)
  • Bloating (abdominal tenderness and swelling [distention])
  • Changes in bowel habits (e.g., constipation, diarrhea)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Inability to have a bowel movement
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain that spreads (radiates) to the chest, neck, or shoulders
  • Painful urination, difficulty urinating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Vomiting

Abdominal pain during pregnancy or following childbirth also should be reported to a physician.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 28 Feb 2008

Last Modified: 26 Aug 2015