Abdominal pain, which is also referred to as belly ache or stomachache, can be a chronic condition or develop suddenly and can cause difficulty with self care and participating in normal daily activities. Sometimes, sharp abdominal pain may resolve on its own with rest or home remedies such as heat or ginger ale, while in other cases, sharp abdominal pains are a medical emergency that require urgent treatment to avoid complications. Consider this information derived from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Nemours Foundation and the Mayo Clinic about the causes of sharp abdominal pain.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies with sharp abdominal pains may be suffering from a condition called colic. Babies with colic may show symptoms of abdominal pain including frequent crying, gas and pulling the legs up toward the belly. Colic symptoms are usually worse in the late afternoon and usually occur in babies who are 10 days to several months in age.
According to the Mayo Clinic, constipation is a cause of sharp abdominal pains in babies, children and adults. Constipation is often a result of certain dietary habits such as a lack of fruits and vegetables, a diet that is low in fiber and not drinking enough water. Constipation may also be caused by a lack of exercise or frequent emotional stress.
Women with certain types of gynecological disorders may experience sharp abdominal pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. Pelvic inflammatory disease and salpingitis, which is the medical term for inflammation in the Fallopian tubes, can result in sharp abdominal pain and cramping in women. Other gynecological disorders that can cause sharp abdominal pain include ectopic pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis, ovarian cysts and abscesses of the Fallopian tubes or ovaries.
According to the Nemours Foundation, many types of infections can be a cause of abdominal pain. Food poisoning is a result of bacterial or viral contamination of food and beverages and is a cause of sharp abdominal pains that are often accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting. Other types of infections that may cause sharp abdominal pains include toxic shock syndrome, urinary tract infections and bladder infections.
Inflammation of the digestive organs can be a cause of sharp abdominal pains, according to the Nemours Foundation. Inflammatory bowel disorders can occur in adults as well as children and include irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease. Inflammation of the stomach, which is referred to as gastritis, can also be a cause of sharp pain in the abdomen.
Irritations of the stomach, intestines and other internal organs located in the abdomen can be a cause of sharp abdominal pain. According to the Nemours Foundation, ulcers can irritate the lining of the stomach, resulting in sharp abdominal pains, indigestion and heartburn. Diverticulitis, which is an irritation of the intestines caused by abnormal swelling, can result in sharp abdominal pain and changes in bowel functions.