Upset stomach or abdominal pain and chills can result from bacterial and viral conditions, such as food poisoning or gastroenteritis. It may also occur with serious conditions, such as a kidney infection or appendicitis.
Abdominal pain is pain that originates between the chest and the pelvis. It can be cramp-like, achy, dull, or sharp and is often called stomachache.
Chills cause you to shake or shiver as if you’re very cold. Shivering is one way the body protects itself from cold. It causes the muscles to flex and extend to warm them up. You may feel cold when you have the chills, or you may shiver without feeling cold. Chills are often associated with fevers.
Keep reading to learn the medical conditions associated with these symptoms and when to seek medical attention.
Chills and abdominal pain
Many of these conditions occur with other symptoms.
Common conditions associated with both abdominal pain and chills can include:
- bacterial or viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
- infectious mononucleosis
- urinary tract infection
- salmonella food poisoning
- kidney stone
- pelvic inflammatory disease
- intestinal ischemia or blockage
Abdominal pain and chills may also be due to inflammation of the abdominal organs. These conditions may include:
- appendicitis, inflammation of the appendix often caused by a blockage
- gastritis, inflammation of the lining of the stomach
- colitis, inflammation of the large intestine
- inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- hepatitis, inflammation of the liver
- pyelonephritis, a sudden and severe kidney infection
- gallbladder inflammation, or cholecystitis
- acute pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas usually caused by gallstones
- chronic pancreatitis
- peritonitis, which can be caused by injury, another condition, or a bacterial or fungal infection
- prostatitis, inflammation of the prostate, which may or may not be caused by bacteria
Some of the above causes
Less common causes of abdominal pain and chills can include:
- yellow fever
- Weil’s disease, or leptospirosis
- cystic fibrosis
- Addisonian crisis
In rare instances, abdominal pain and chills can result from a heart attack. In this case, other symptoms are usually present.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience the following symptoms along with abdominal pain and chills:
- severe pain
- changes in vision
- chest pain
- fever greater than 101˚F (38.3˚C)
- neck stiffness
- severe headache
- loss of consciousness
- pain that radiates to your shoulder
- shortness of breath
- uncontrolled vomiting
Consult a doctor if you experience abdominal pain and chills along with:
- body aches
- muscle aches
- runny nose
- sore throat
- unexplained fatigue
- vomiting for more than 24 hours
In an emergency
If your symptoms feel severe or are accompanied by other severe symptoms, such as chest pain, high fever, or changes in vision or consciousness, you may need emergency medical attention. Visit an emergency room or contact 911 or your local emergency services.
Treatments for abdominal pain and chills will usually address the underlying causes. Doctors treat bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections or kidney infections, with antibiotics.
Certain causes, such as appendicitis or gallstones, may be treated with surgery.
A doctor may recommend home care if the cause is a viral infection like infectious mononucleosis or viral gastroenteritis.
Rest and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Sponge your body with lukewarm water about 70˚F (21˚C), or take a cool shower to manage your chills. This method can be more effective than covering yourself with blankets. However, very cold water may make chills worse.
- aspirin (Bayer)
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- naproxen (Aleve)
- ibuprofen (Advil)
Aspirin should not be given to infants, children, or teens. In children, it can potentially cause Reye’s Syndrome, a rare condition that can lead to brain and liver damage.
Washing your hands frequently, especially before eating, can help prevent viral and bacterial infections that may lead to abdominal pain and chills.
Drinking plenty of fluids and wiping from front to back can help prevent urinary tract infections that can lead to abdominal pain and chills. Drinking a glass of water before sex and urinating afterward
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 doctor can prescribe anti-malarial drugs as a protective means if you travel to an area where malaria is common. These medications are preventive and need to be started before traveling.
Many conditions may cause abdominal pain and chills. These may include viral or bacterial infections, blockages, and injury.
Depending on the cause and severity, you may treat abdominal pain and chills at home.
But if the pain is severe or occurs with other severe or concerning symptoms, you may need urgent medical care.