When should I be concerned about pain in my lower right abdomen?

The lower right part of your abdomen is home to part of your colon and, for some women, the right ovary. There are many conditions that can cause you to feel mild to severe discomfort in your right abdominal region. More often than not, pain in the lower right abdomen is nothing to worry about and will go away on its own in a day or two.

But if you’re experiencing persistent discomfort, you should see your doctor. They can assess your symptoms and make a diagnosis.

When should I seek medical attention for pain in my lower right abdomen?

You should seek immediate medical attention if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • pain or pressure in your chest
  • fever
  • bloody stools
  • persistent nausea and vomiting
  • skin that appears yellow (jaundice)
  • severe tenderness when you touch your abdomen
  • swelling of the abdomen

If you feel any of these symptoms, have someone drive you to the emergency room immediately. Urgent care can help prevent these symptoms from becoming severe or life-threatening.

What causes pain in the lower right abdomen?

Your appendix is a small, thin tube that’s located where the large and small intestines meet. When your appendix becomes inflamed, it’s known as appendicitis. Appendicitis is a common cause of pain specifically in the lower right abdomen.

Other symptoms of appendicitis can include:

The condition often requires immediate medical attention. So, if you’re experiencing these symptoms, you should see your doctor. After your doctor diagnoses the condition, they’ll either send you home with a treatment plan or admit you to the hospital for further observation.

Your doctor may determine that surgery to remove your appendix (appendectomy) is necessary to prevent the organ from rupturing and causing other complications. If your appendicitis is severe, your doctor may remove your appendix immediately.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of appendicitis, you shouldn’t take enemas or laxatives, as they can cause your appendix to burst. It’s best to avoid any type of medications unless they’re prescribed by your doctor as part of your treatment plan.

What are some other causes of pain in the lower right abdomen?

These causes are the most common reasons you may experience pain on either side of the lower abdomen. Although you may feel discomfort on the right side, this pain can also occur on your left.

Gas

Intestinal gas is air found in your entire digestive tract. It’s often caused by food that’s not broken down completely until it reaches your colon.

The more undigested food present, the more gas your body will produce. As gas builds up, it can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and a “knotted” feeling in your stomach.

Burping and farting usually provide relief. In fact, it’s typical for a person to expel gas up to 20 times a day.

However, excessive gas may be a sign of a digestive disorder, such as diabetes or lactose intolerance.

Other causes for intestinal gas include:

  • swallowing more air than normal
  • overeating
  • chewing gum
  • smoking

Indigestion

Indigestion (dyspepsia) typically develops after you eat or drink something. Pain usually occurs in the upper abdomen, though it may still be felt lower down.

Symptoms of indigestion also include:

  • heartburn
  • bloating
  • early or uncomfortable fullness
  • feeling sick
  • burping
  • farting
  • food or bitter-tasting fluids coming back up

Mild indigestion will go away fairly quickly and can be treated by over-the-counter medications. But if symptoms persist for more than two weeks, you should see your doctor to rule out underlying digestive issues.

Hernia

A hernia happens when a body part or internal organ pushes through tissue or muscle that holds it in place. There are several types of hernias, most of which happen in the abdomen. Each type can cause pain or discomfort in the affected area.

Other common symptoms include:

  • swelling or bulging at the site
  • increased pain
  • pain while lifting, laughing, crying, coughing, or straining
  • a dull ache
  • feeling full or constipated

Kidney infection

A kidney infection is caused by bacteria that usually come from your bladder, ureters, or urethra. One or both of your kidneys could be affected by the infection.

Although you may feel pain in your lower abdomen, discomfort from a kidney infection more often occurs in your back, sides, or groin.

Other symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • frequent urination
  • feeling the need to urinate, even if you just went
  • pain or burning when urinating
  • pus or blood in your urine
  • urine that’s cloudy or smells bad

When untreated, kidney infections can cause permanent damage. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor right away.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are a hard buildup of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys. You may not feel any pain until the kidney stones begin to move around or pass into the tube that connects your kidney and bladder.

When this happens, you’ll feel severe pain in your back and side, below the ribs, and throughout your lower abdomen and groin. The intensity and location of the pain may change as the kidney stone shifts and moves through your urinary tract.

Other symptoms include:

  • painful urination
  • pink, red, or brown urine
  • urine that’s cloudy or smells bad
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • feeling the constant need to pee
  • frequent urination
  • fevers and chills, if infection is also present

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common, chronic disorder that affects the large intestine.

IBS causes:

  • cramps
  • bloating
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • abdominal pain
  • a change in bowel movements
  • mucus in the stool

Doctors don’t know what causes irritable bowel syndrome, though some factors have been identified. This includes stronger-than-normal intestinal contractions or abnormalities in your digestive nervous system.

Inflammatory bowel disease

IBS shouldn’t be confused with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a group of debilitating digestive disorders that cause changes in bowel tissue and increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the two most common causes of IBD. Both chronic conditions cause inflammation within your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain.

IBD may also cause:

  • severe diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • fever
  • blood in your stool
  • reduced appetite

IBD can lead to life-threatening complications if left untreated. You should see your doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

What are some causes of pain in the lower right abdomen in women?

Some causes of lower abdominal pain affect women only. These conditions are generally more serious and need medical attention. Although you may experience pain on the lower right side of your abdomen, this pain can also develop on the left side.

Menstrual cramps

Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are a symptom of menstruation. They can happen before or during your period. The cramps are most often felt on either or both sides of the lower abdomen, which is where your uterus is contracting to get rid of its lining.

Other common symptoms include:

  • dull, constant ache
  • pain throughout your lower back and thighs
  • nausea
  • loose stools
  • headaches
  • dizziness

Endometriosis

Although cramps are a common symptom of menstruation, they can also be caused by an underlying issue such as endometriosis. Endometriosis occurs when the lining that normally grows inside of your uterus forms on the outside of the organ.

In addition to severe cramps and lower abdominal pain, endometriosis can cause:

  • pain during or after sex
  • painful bowel movements or peeing during menstruation
  • heavy periods
  • spotting or bleeding between periods

It’s an agonizing and chronic condition for many women, and can lead to infertility. If you suspect endometriosis may be the reason for your abdominal pain, see your doctor. The sooner the condition can be treated, the less likely complications are.

Ovarian cyst

Ovarian cysts are sacs filled with fluid found on or inside the ovary. Most cysts don’t cause pain or discomfort, and they may eventually disappear on their own. But a large ovarian cyst, especially if it’s ruptured, can lead to serious symptoms.

This includes:

  • dull or sharp lower abdomen pain
  • bloating
  • full or heavy feeling in your abdomen

You should see your doctor right away if these symptoms are accompanied by:

  • sudden and severe abdominal pain
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • cold and clammy skin
  • rapid breathing
  • weakness

Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg implants itself in one of the fallopian tubes.

In addition to abdominal pain, symptoms can include:

  • vaginal bleeding
  • pain where your shoulder ends and your arm begins
  • painful peeing or bowel movements
  • diarrhea

If the ectopic pregnancy ruptures, you may also experience:

  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • pallor

Pelvic inflammatory disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is often caused by untreated sexually transmitted diseases.

PID can cause pain in your lower abdomen, as well as:

  • fever
  • unusual vaginal discharge with a bad odor
  • pain and bleeding during sex
  • burning during urination
  • bleeding during periods

Ovarian torsion

Ovarian torsion happens when your ovary, and sometimes fallopian tube, becomes twisted, cutting off the organ’s blood supply. Also known as adnexal torsion, the condition can cause severe lower abdominal pain.

Other symptoms include:

  • irregular periods
  • pain during sex
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • feeling full even though you’ve barely eaten

Ovarian torsion often requires surgery to untwist the ovary.

What are some causes of pain in the lower right abdomen in men?

Some causes of lower abdominal pain affect men only. These conditions are generally more serious and need medical attention. Although you may feel pain on the right side of your lower abdomen, this pain can also happen on your left side.

Inguinal hernia

Inguinal hernia is one of the most common types of hernias. They are far more common in men than in women. It happens when fat or part of the small intestine pushes through a weak part of your lower abdomen.

If this happens, you’ll notice a small bulge in your groin area between your thigh and lower abdomen. You may also feel discomfort and pain when straining, lifting, coughing, or exercising.

Other symptoms include:

weakness, heaviness, aching, or burning in the groin

swollen or enlarged scrotum

Testicular torsion

Testicular torsion happens when your testicle turns and twists the spermatic cord. This twisting causes reduced blood flow to the area, leading to sudden and severe pain and swelling in the scrotum. The condition also causes abdominal pain.

Other symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • uneven testicle position
  • painful urination
  • fever

Testicular torsion usually requires emergency surgery.

When should I see my doctor?

You should make a doctor’s appointment if your lower right abdominal pain lasts more than a few days or causes you any concern.

Mild cases of abdominal pain can usually be treated at home. For example, changing your diet can help treat gas and indigestion, while certain pain relievers can help control menstrual cramps.

Generally, though, you should avoid using aspirin (Bufferin) or ibuprofen (Advil) because they can irritate your stomach, worsening abdominal pain.