When To Go To The ER For Stomach Pain

Experiencing stomach pain can be unsettling, leaving us unsure whether it’s a minor discomfort or a sign of a serious underlying condition. The decision of when to seek medical attention is a critical one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. While some stomach pain can be attributed to harmless causes like indigestion or muscle strain, it’s essential to recognize the red flags indicating immediate evaluation. In this blog, we will explore the scenarios of when to go to the ER for stomach pain. By understanding these signs, you’ll be equipped to make informed decisions about seeking urgent medical assistance and ensure your health and well-being are properly addressed.

Understanding Stomach Pain

Abdominal pain can range from mild discomfort to severe agony, and pinpointing its origin is essential when determining the appropriate course of action. It’s also important to realize that stomach pain is often a symptom rather than a condition, so your stomach pain may be accompanied by other symptoms you might have overlooked. Some factors to consider are associated symptoms, duration and intensity of the pain, and any medical history that could prove relevant. By understanding the common types of stomach pain and their potential causes, individuals can better assess whether to visit an urgent care facility, their primary care physician, or make a trip to the ER

man holding his side in pain

Common Causes of Stomach Pain

Stomach pain can be caused by various factors, each with its distinct characteristics. Some common causes of stomach pain include:


Indigestion occurs when your body struggles to break down food. Practices such as quick eating, consuming spicy or fatty foods, and overeating can lead to indigestion, resulting in abdominal discomfort and bloating. Gas and flatulence resulting from indigestion can also cause abdominal pain, accompanied by the need to pass gas.

Gastrointestinal Conditions

Many gastrointestinal conditions can cause abdominal pain, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). These conditions can result in changes to bowel movements, pain in the digestive tract, and chronic inflammation. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) can also result in stomach pain, as well as chest pain. If you suspect you might have one of these conditions, we recommend visiting your healthcare provider to be diagnosed and treated accordingly. 

woman with stomach pain in consultation

Peptic Ulcers and Gastritis 

Ulcers are open sores that develop in the lining of the stomach and small intestine, which an infection, alcohol consumption, stress, or overuse of medications such as ibuprofen can cause. 


Hardened deposits can develop in the gallbladder, which can cause severe pain in the abdomen. 

Kidney Stones

Hardened mineral and salt deposits can develop in the kidneys, leading to intense pain in the lower abdomen. 


Inflammation of the appendix can cause severe pain in the lower right part of your abdomen. If you think you’re experiencing appendicitis, we recommend that you immediately seek medical care at your nearest ER for abdominal pain


The stomach flu (gastroenteritis), bacterial infections (such as food poisoning), and parasitic infections can be a cause for stomach pain. 

Muscle Strain

Excessive exercise or physical exertion can result in localized pain in the abdomen. 

How to Alleviate Stomach Pain

If you don’t believe your symptoms are severe enough to warrant a trip to an emergency department, here are some measures that may alleviate mild stomach pain:

  • Rest
  • Over-the-counter medications such as calcium carbonate or magnesium hydroxide
  • A heating pad or a warm compress
  • Avoiding foods that trigger stomach pain
  • Hydration
  • Ginger tea or capsules might help reduce nausea and discomfort
  • Managing stress levels

man taking pills

When to Consider the Emergency Room 

When experiencing intense stomach pain, there are certain situations where it is crucial to visit an emergency room for emergent care. Severe abdominal pain that arises abruptly and quickly intensifies could indicate a life-threatening condition, such as a ruptured appendix or internal bleeding. Both of these scenarios might lead to needing emergency abdominal surgery

Additionally, if abdominal pain is paired with these alarming symptoms:

  • High fever
  • Persistent vomiting (blood or bile) 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe weakness

Then, it is essential to seek emergency care. Similarly, if the pain persists or worsens over time or is a result of an injury or accident, we also advise going to your nearest ER. 

Furthermore, individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, or other conditions that compromise the immune system, need to be vigilant and know when to go to the ER for stomach pain, as they may be at a higher risk for developing severe complications. 

Trusting your instincts and prioritizing your well-being when confronted with severe or concerning stomach pain is essential. 

24/7 Emergency Care

Understanding when to seek medical care for stomach pain is essential for ensuring timely and appropriate treatment. By differentiating between mild and severe stomach pain and recognizing red flags that indicate a need for emergency care, individuals can make informed decisions about seeking medical attention. While self-care measures and over-the-counter medications may provide temporary relief for mild cases, it is crucial to prioritize your health and consult healthcare professionals when you feel it is necessary. 

At Altus, our team of experienced physicians and staff are available 24/7 to provide prompt and compassionate care. All of our locations are equipped with advanced diagnostic technology to provide comprehensive medical services, ensuring that patients receive the emergency care they need. Visit our website to find your nearest Altus location.