Abdominal pain, or stomach aches, and dizziness often go hand in hand. But in order to find the cause of these symptoms, it’s important to know which one came first. Pain around your stomach area can be localized or felt all over, affecting other areas of... Read more
Abdominal pain, or stomach aches, and dizziness often go hand in hand. But in order to find the cause of these symptoms, it’s important to know which one came first.
Pain around your stomach area can be localized or felt all over, affecting other areas of the body. Many times dizziness comes after abdominal pain as a secondary symptom.
Dizziness is a range of feelings that make you feel unbalanced or unsteady. Read about the causes of dizziness here, if that’s your primary symptom.
Abdominal pain can be:
- on and off
- episodic, or periodic
Severe pain of any type can make you feel lightheaded or dizzy. Stomach aches and dizziness often go away without treatment. You may feel better after getting some rest. Either sit or lay down and see if you notice a difference.
But if your abdominal pain and dizziness also accompany other symptoms such as changes in vision and bleeding, it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Make an appointment with your doctor if your symptoms are caused by an injury, interfere with your day to day activities, or are getting progressively worse.
What can cause abdominal pain and dizziness?
Abdominal pain can have many causes including food indigestion, gallstones, and certain medications. The pain can be mild or so intense that you become dizzy or lightheaded.
Always seek medical attention if your abdominal pain is severe or doesn’t ease up within 30 minutes.
Serious conditions include:
- appendicitis, which may also include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or fever
- ectopic pregnancy, which may also include vaginal bleeding
- acute pancreatitis, where abdominal pain lasts several days and can cause symptoms of nausea, fever, and rapid heartbeat
- food poisoning, which causes chills, fever, diarrhea, insomnia, poor concentration, and fast heartbeat
- gastrointestinal bleeding, which appears as vomiting blood or passing dark or bloody stool, and can result in dizziness if enough blood is lost
- intestinal or gastric perforation, which is when a hole forms in your stomach or intestines due to an ulcer, an infection, or cancerous lesion, causing gastric contents to leak in the abdominal cavity
- peritonitis, the infection of the stomach lining that can cause severe pain, which is worse with movement, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and fever
A perforation is considered a medical emergency. It causes sudden, intense pain in your stomach. Gastric cancer can also cause intense pain and associated dizziness.
Other conditions that can cause abdominal pain and dizziness are:
- kidney stones, which also cause frequent urination, blood in the urine, and a sharp pain in the side
- ileus, a bowel obstruction that leads to vomiting and dehydration
- stomach flu, which also causes symptoms of diarrhea, dehydration, and fatigue
- abdominal migraine, an overall dull pain that can include nausea and/or vomiting
- premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or painful menstruation
- vascular disease, which can occur after eating because of poor blood flow to the intestines due to a blockage in the intestinal arteries
Intense exercise may also cause stomach pains and dizziness. One study found that strenuous exercise, dehydration, and delayed digestion were the main causes of stomach pain in athletes.
Limited sweat evaporation and increased dehydration also lead to heat illness. Dehydration and low blood sugar from too much exercise can also make you feel lightheaded.
What can cause abdominal pain and dizziness after eating?
If you feel abdominal pain and dizziness after eating, it may be because your blood pressure hasn’t stabilized. This sudden drop in blood pressure after a meal is called postprandial hypotension.
Normally, when you eat, blood flow increases to your stomach and small intestine. Your heart also beats faster to maintain blood flow and pressure in the rest of your body. In postprandial hypotension, your blood decreases everywhere but the digestive system. This imbalance can cause:
- stomach pains
- chest pains
- blurred vision
This condition is more common in older adults and people with damaged nerve receptors or blood pressure sensors. These damaged receptors and sensors affect how other parts of your body react during digestion.
A gastric ulcer is an open sore in the lining of your stomach. Stomach pain often occurs within a few hours of eating. Other symptoms that normally accompany gastric ulcers include:
- mild nausea
- feeling full
- pain in the upper abdomen
- blood in stools or urine
- chest pains
Most stomach ulcers go unnoticed until a serious complication, such as bleeding, occurs. This can lead to stomach pains and dizziness from blood loss.
How are abdominal pain and dizziness diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your medical history to help make a diagnosis. Explaining your symptoms in detail will help your doctor determine the cause.
For example, upper abdominal pain may be a sign of a peptic ulcer, pancreatitis, or gallbladder disease. Lower right abdominal pain can be a sign of kidney stones, appendicitis, or ovarian cysts.
Be mindful of the severity of your dizziness. It’s important to note that lightheadedness feels like you’re about to faint, whereas vertigo is the sensation that your environment is moving.
Experiencing vertigo is more likely to be an issue with your sensory system. It’s usually an inner ear disorder rather than caused by poor blood circulation.
How are abdominal pain and dizziness treated?
Treatments for abdominal pain and dizziness vary depending on the primary symptom and underlying cause. For example, a gastric ulcer may require medicine or surgery. Your doctor can recommend a specific treatment course to treat the condition.
In some cases, abdominal pain and dizziness resolves itself. This is common for food poisoning, stomach flu, and motion sickness.
Try to drink lots of fluids if vomiting and diarrhea accompany your stomach pains. Laying or sitting down can help as you wait for symptoms to improve. You can also take medication to reduce stomach pains and dizziness.
How can I prevent abdominal pain and dizziness?
Tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine are linked to abdominal pain and dizziness. Avoiding excess consumption can help lessen these symptoms.
Drinking water during intense exercise can also help reduce stomach cramps and dehydration. It’s recommended to drink at least four ounces of water every 15 minutes when you are in the heat or exercising.
Be careful not to over-exercise to the point of vomiting, loss of consciousness, or injury.
When to seek medical help
Always seek immediate medical attention for any pain that lasts seven to 10 days or becomes so problematic that it interferes with your day to day activities.
See a doctor if you’re experiencing abdominal pain and dizziness along with:
- changes in vision
- chest pain
- a high fever
- neck stiffness
- severe headache
- loss of consciousness
- pain in your shoulder or neck
- severe pelvic pain
- shortness of breath
- uncontrolled vomiting or diarrhea
- vaginal pain and bleeding
- blood in the urine or stools
Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms for more than 24 hours:
- acid reflux
- blood in your urine
- itchy, blistery rash
- painful urination
- unexplained fatigue
- worsening symptoms
This information is only a summary of emergency symptoms. Call 911 or contact your doctor if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency.
Can abdominal pain feel like something else?
In rare cases, chest pain can mimic abdominal pain. The pain moves to your upper stomach area even though it starts in the chest.
Call a doctor immediately if you feel:
- an abnormal heartbeat
- chest pains
- shortness of breath
- pain or pressure in your shoulder, neck, arms, back, teeth or jaw
- sweaty and clammy skin
- nausea and vomiting
These are symptoms of a heart attack and require immediate medical attention.