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Epigastric Pain (Uncertain Cause)

Epigastric pain can be a sign of disease in the upper abdomen. Common causes include:

Liver, gallbladder, stomach, pancreas, common bile duct, and small intestine

  • Acid reflux (stomach acid flowing up into the esophagus)

  • Gastritis (irritation of the stomach lining)

  • Peptic Ulcer Disease

  • Inflammation of the pancreas

  • Gallstone

  • Infection in the gallbladder

Pain may be dull or burning. It may spread upward to the chest or to the back. There may be other symptoms such as belching, bloating, cramps or hunger pains. There may be weight loss or poor appetite, nausea or vomiting.

Since the diagnosis of your pain is not certain yet, further tests will be needed. Sometimes the doctor will treat you for the most likely condition to see if there is improvement before doing further tests.

Home Care:

  • Unless told otherwise, you may try antacids (Mylanta or Maalox) help neutralize stomach acid. This may relieve your pain. Take 1-2 tablespoons or tablets one hour after meals and at bedtime. The liquid form coats the stomach better than the chewable tablets and is preferred. If Tagamet (cimetidine), Zantac (ranitidine), or Carafate (sucralfate) has also been prescribed, allow one hour between taking this medicine and taking the antacids.

  • Avoid foods that irritate the stomach. Follow a light diet until you are feeling better.

  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. Talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicine that contains aspirin or an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Naprosyn, or Aleve.

Follow Up

with your doctor or as advised if you do not improve over the next 48 hours.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Stomach pain worsens or moves to the right lower part of the abdomen

  • Chest pain appears, or if it worsens or spreads to the chest, back, neck, shoulder, or arm

  • Frequent vomiting (can’t keep down liquids)

  • Blood in the stool or vomit (red or black color)

  • Feeling weak or dizzy, fainting, or having trouble breathing

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Abdominal swelling


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