5 Causes of Stomach Pain in the Morning

Stomach pain can be a pain anywhere from beneath the ribs to the pelvis. Like most other kinds of abdominal pain, stomach pain that occurs in the morning will typically get better on its own in the majority of cases without the need for any kind of special treatment.

In some cases, however, stomach pain in the morning may require medical attention. For instance, you should never ignore pain that wakes you from sleep. If your stomach pain wakes you up, you should speak with your healthcare provider.

There are numerous potential causes of stomach pain. And they may occur at any time of day, including the morning.

This article will explain more about potential causes for stomach pain in the morning, prevention, treatment, and when to see a healthcare provider.

Stomach pain

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Causes of Stomach Pain In the Morning

In most cases, stomach aches aren't serious and will clear up after a few hours or days without the need for treatment.

Pain in the stomach may feel like:

  • Gnawing
  • Cramping
  • Dull
  • Twisting
  • Aching
  • Stabbing
  • Burning

There are many potential causes for stomach pain, and some are more serious than others.

Severity of Stomach Pain

Stomach pain can range from mild to severe. It is important to remember that severity of pain does not necessarily relate to how serious the underlying cause of pain is.

It is possible to have horrible stomach pain from gas or gastroenteritis (stomach flu). This may not be serious, but can still be very painful.

Conversely, potentially fatal conditions like colon cancer or even the early stages of appendicitis may cause no pain or only very mild pain. If you are in doubt about the cause or severity of your pain, you should consult your healthcare provider.

Indigestion

Also called dyspepsia, indigestion can cause pain in the stomach area at any time of day, including the morning.

Along with stomach pain, indigestion may cause other symptoms including:

  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Burping
  • Loud noises from the stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling full too soon

Indigestion can occur due to lifestyle factors, underlying health issues or medications.

Lifestyle factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Too much alcohol
  • Too much caffeine
  • Eating too quickly
  • Stress
  • Eating spicy, greasy, or fatty foods

Underlying health issues may include:

Some medications may also cause indigestion. These include:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an umbrella term for a group of symptoms that can occur together.

The condition is characterized by recurring pain in the abdomen. Those with IBS may experience diarrhea, constipation, or both.

Roughly 12 percent of the population in the United States have IBS.

Symptoms of IBS may include:

  • Pain in the stomach area
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Whitish colored mucus in the stool
  • Feelings of an incomplete bowel movement

For people who menstruate, symptoms may worsen during the time of their period.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to ongoing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, due to one of three conditions—Crohn's diseaseulcerative colitis, and indeterminate colitis.

IBD can cause abdominal pain at any time of day.

Other symptoms of IBD may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in the stools
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Bleeding from the rectum

Constipation

A person is considered constipated if they pass less than three bowel movements a week. Constipation may cause stomach pain, along with other symptoms.

These include:

  • Difficulty passing stools
  • Feelings of an incomplete bowel movement
  • Dry stools
  • Lumpy stools
  • Lumpy hard
  • Pain when passing stools

Peptic Ulcer

A peptic ulcer is a type of sore found on the lining of the stomach or in the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. Ulcers can be common.

Ulcers found in the stomach are referred to as gastric ulcers and ulcers in the duodenum are referred to as a duodenal ulcer.

Ulcers may be caused by the over-use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or from an infection from a bacteria called helicobacter pylori.

Not everyone who has an ulcer will experience symptoms.

Most commonly, an ulcer causes a burning or dull pain somewhere in the abdomen between the breast bone and navel (belly button). This pain may happen around meal times and the pain may cause a person to wake from sleep.

Other symptoms of ulcers may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Burping
  • Bloody stool
  • Black stool
  • Vomiting blood
  • No appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Nausea

When to See a Healthcare Provider

In the majority of cases, pain in the stomach is nothing to worry about and will often resolve on its own.

However, if you have severe stomach pain that wakes you from sleep, you should speak with your healthcare provider.

You should also call 911 or seek immediate medical help if you have morning stomach pain and you also experience any of the following:

  • Are in treatment for cancer
  • Have pain in the chest, neck, or shoulders
  • Can't pass stools and are vomiting
  • Have blood in your stool
  • Are vomiting blood
  • Have sharp and sudden pain in the abdomen
  • Have trouble breathing
  • Have pain between your shoulder blades and also feel nauseous
  • Have a stomach that is hard or rigid to the touch
  • Have a tender stomach
  • Are pregnant or might be pregnant
  • Have had recent trauma to the abdomen through an injury

You should also contact your healthcare provider if you have stomach pain and:

  • You have diarrhea that lasts longer than five days
  • Your pain in your stomach lasts a week or more
  • You have bloating that continues for more than two days
  • You have pain that doesn't improve in 24 to 48 hours or it becomes worse or more frequent
  • You have a burning feeling when urinating
  • You urinate frequently
  • You have a fever over 100°F for adults or 100.4°F for children
  • You have lost your appetite
  • You have bleeding from the vagina that persists
  • You have unintentional weight loss

Treatment

Treating pain in the stomach area depends on the underlying cause of the pain. Mild pain may be treated with over-the-counter medications.

Pain from underlying causes like IBD and IBS will require specialized treatment and medications.

It is important to not use aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen to treat any kind of abdominal pain except period pain. Doing so may cause further irritation to the stomach or bowel.

At home treatments that might help ease pain in the stomach area include:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Limiting intake of caffeine or alcohol
  • Resting
  • Eating bland foods
  • Using a heating blanket or hot water bottle on the area that is sore

Prevention

It is possible to reduce the chances of some causes of abdominal pain through lifestyle choices.

These include:

  • Drinking lots of water every day
  • Exercising
  • Limiting foods that might cause gas
  • Eating smaller meals more frequently
  • Eating a diet high in fiber
  • Eating lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Eating well-balanced meals

Summary

Morning stomach pain is usually not anything to worry about. Some common causes of stomach pain in the morning include indigestion, IBS, IBD, constipation, and peptic ulcer. If your stomach pain persists or worsens, or if you are experiencing additional worrisome symptoms, seek medical attention.

A Word From Verywell

Having stomach pain at any time of day can be upsetting, and waking up with stomach pain can be even worse. If you have stomach pain that wakes you from sleep, or your pain persists, speak to your healthcare provider. They will help you identify the underlying cause of your pain and come up with a treatment plan that can relieve your symptoms and get you back to feeling like yourself again.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How should you sleep with stomach pain?

    If you have stomach pain that wakes you from sleep, speak to your healthcare provider. They will be able to help identify what is causing your pain and help find the best treatment for you.

    At-home remedies like staying hydrated and using a hot water bottle may also help when you have stomach pain.

  • What tea is good for stomach pain?

    Some people find that drinking peppermint tea is helpful for calming their stomach and easing their stomach pain. It can also help with digestion and cramping, which may help with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.

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12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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