What Are Abdominal Pain and Chills?

Abdominal pain is pain that originates between the chest and the pelvis. Abdominal pain can be cramp-like, achy, dull, or sharp. It is often called stomachache.

Chills cause you to shake or shiver as if you are very cold. Shivering is one way the body protects itself from cold. It causes the muscles to flex and extend as a way of warming them up. You may feel cold when you have the chills or you may shiver without feeling cold. Chills are often associated with fevers.

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What Causes Abdominal Pain and Chills?

Together, chills and abdominal pain may be the result of a number of infectious conditions, both bacterial and viral.

Conditions associated with abdominal pain and chills include:

  • appendicitis
  • bacterial or viral gastroenteritis
  • common cold
  • infectious mononucleosis
  • influenza (flu)
  • malaria
  • meningitis
  • pneumonia
  • urinary tract infection

In rare instances, abdominal pain and chills are the result of a heart attack. In this case, other symptoms are usually present.

When to Seek Medical Help

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience the following symptoms along with abdominal pain and chills:

  • changes in vision
  • chest pain
  • fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius)
  • neck stiffness
  • severe headache
  • loss of consciousness
  • pain that radiates to your shoulder
  • shortness of breath
  • uncontrolled vomiting
  • weakness

Consult your doctor if you experience any these symptoms along with body aches, diarrhea, fever, muscle aches, runny nose, sore throat, unexplained fatigue, and/or vomiting for more than 24 hours:

(This information is a summary. Seek medical attention if you suspect you need urgent care.)

How Are Abdominal Pain and Chills Treated?

Treatments for abdominal pain and chills will usually address the underlying causes. If the symptoms are related to the flu and/or a cold, over-the-counter medications will likely be all that is necessary. However, bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections, are often treated with antibiotics.

Home Care

Resting and drinking plenty of fluids can help to prevent dehydration while you experience abdominal pain and chills associated with the flu or a cold. Sponging your body with lukewarm water (70 degrees Fahrenheit) or taking a cool shower is surprisingly more effective than covering yourself with blankets. However, very cold water may make chills worse.

Medications known to reduce fevers and discomfort associated with abdominal pain and chills include aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

How Can I Prevent Abdominal Pain and Chills?

Preventing colds and the flu is not always possible, particularly during the winter months when cold temperatures bring people to close quarters. Washing hands frequently, especially before eating, can help prevent infectious diseases that lead to abdominal pain and chills.

Drinking plenty of fluids and wiping from front to back can help to prevent urinary tract infections that can lead to abdominal pain and chills.

If you are going outdoors or traveling to areas where malaria is common, using insect repellants that contain 20 to 35 percent DEET can help to prevent malaria. A physician can prescribe anti-malaria drugs as a protective means if you are traveling to an area where malaria is common.