Epigastric Pain

Epigastric pain is a localized pain associate with upper abdomen region right below the rib-cage. Often the pain may occur right after eating food. This kind of abdomen ache is also experienced by those who lie down shortly after consuming food. This is one of the common kinds of GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. The condition may be linked with upward movement of gastric contents to uvula or back of throat which causes burning sensation, pain as well as inflammation.

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This condition may also result due to other irregularities that may lead to digestive organ inflammation. Digestive organs may include body parts such as pancreatitis, gastritis, etc. This condition may also be experienced by pregnant women. Epigastric pain in pregnant women may occur due to augmented pressure on the abdomen or degraded digestive process due to hormonal changes. Primary conditions that also hinder the standard digestive processes may also lead to such pain in upper stomach. Such conditions may include gallstone, hiatus hernia or peptic ulcer, etc. Under such circumstances the condition may be chronic and occur frequently after having food.

epigastric pain

Symptoms of epigastric pain

  • Bloating of stomach
  • Diarrhea or loose motions
  • Vomiting
  • Queasiness
  • Constipation
  • Flatulence
  • Belching

In cases wherein epigastric pain is resulted due to heart anomalies, patient may suffer from serious symptoms and emergency medical help may be needed. These fatal symptoms may include:

  • Tightness of chest
  • Palpitation
  • Intense chest pain
  • Pain radiating to arms and shoulders
  • Shortness of breath and other respiratory issues, wheezing, choking or labored breathing
  • Vomiting blood or black appearing material

Some individuals may experience mild epigastric pain which may result every time they have their meal but may subside faster. This occurrence can also be intense and causes serve pain and burning of the abdomen. The sensation may also reach to neck and chest and may be severe enough to prevent sleep. In rare cases associated heart conditions may lead to such excruciating pain.

Location of epigastric pain

Epigastric pain is associated with the epigastrium which makes quarter circle of the stomach located in in upper central region of stomach.  The area lies between costal margin and subcostal plane. There are several factors that may cause the condition.

Causes of epigastric pain

There are several factors that may lead to epigastric pain. Commonly such a pain may occur due to drinking alcohol during meal, bingeing, eating spicy food, consuming greasy food, etc. Acid reflux as well as lactose intolerance may also cause pain associated with epigastrium. As mentioned above GERD is another common cause of the condition. Some other causes include:

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    • Indigestion, technically called Dyspepsia
    • Cardiovascular issues
    • Stomach lining inflammation
    • Backward flow of acidic content towards to esophagus
    • Side effect of drugs such as aspirin, NSAIDs or Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Cellular alterations within esophagus that may cause esophageal cancer
    • Inflammation of the esophagus also called Esophagitis
    • Gallbladder diseases such as gallstone
    • Stomach protrusion into chest through diaphragm puncture
    • Cancer of the pancreas
    • Inflammation of pancreas also called Pancreatitis
    • Internal stomach bleeding caused due to ulcer
    • Intestinal ulcer
    • Stomach cancer


In some situations epigastric pain may be resulted due to serious fatal conditions which should be addressed immediately. Such cases would require emergency medical attention. These serious conditions may include:

  • Angina, a condition wherein chest pains due to no supply of oxygen or insufficient oxygen supply to heart
  • Myocardial infarction also common known as Heart Attack

Epigastric pain itself is not a serious condition, but if it acts as a symptom of any primary condition such as heart issues, types of cancers etc, it should be treated immediately. Patients suffering from serious symptoms such as respiration difficulties, chest pain, should call 911.

Epigastric pain treatment

Treatment for epigastric pain may differ according to the cause of the condition. Complication of the treatment would depend on the severity of the diagnosis. However, precautionary measures to relieve pain can be adopted. Here are some commonly prescribed medicines in case of epigastrium pain.

  • Antacids:
    Antacid medicines contain antacid substance which helps in bringing stomach acids to a balance. Acid reflux and ulcer is primarily prevented using sodium, bicarbonate drugs.
  • Cimetidine:

This medicine is usually prescribed in cases of heartburn or peptic ulcer which lead epigastric pain. The drug can hinder the production of gastric acid. This medication is regarded as Histamine H2 Antagonist which is often used for obtaining relief from burning sensation and pain.

  • Ibuprofen:
    This medicine belongs to NSAIDs category which often plays a significant role in alleviating fever, pain as well as swelling. The medicine also has vasoconstrictor properties and has mild anti-platelet effect.
  • Ranitidine:
    This is one of the competitors of Histamine H2 receptors that countervail production of stomach acid. This drug is commonly used against GERD and peptic ulcers. This medicine is also used to treat skin anomalies such as hives when brought in combination with fexofenadine and anti-histamine.

Normal epigastric pain may not be life threatening and can be treated with appropriate dosage of right medicines. There are also chances of unknown complications which is why it is better to consult a doctor.

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