Causes of abdominal pain and chills

Seeing a doctor
Many illnesses and infections may cause stomach pain and chills. These can include the common cold, gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, and prostatitis.

Stomach pain can vary in sensation. Sometimes, the pain may feel dull, while at other times, it can cause cramping or a burning sensation. The pain may also radiate to the back or to other parts of the body.

Abdominal pain can also vary in duration and intensity. The pain may be either intermittent or constant. Symptoms can appear suddenly or get progressively worse.

People who experience stomach pain and chills usually have a bacterial or viral infection. Such infections can cause inflammation and irritation in the gastrointestinal or urinary tracts.

Here, we list some of the common causes of stomach pain and chills:

1. The common cold

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A bacterial or viral infection can cause stomach pain and chills.
Most adults can expect to have two or three colds every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Children usually have more.

The common cold causes symptoms including:

body aches and pains
nausea or stomach ache
a runny nose
a sore throat
Symptoms typically improve after 7–10 days, though a cough can persist for 2 weeks or more.

Treatment involves home remedies such as resting, staying hydrated, and taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

2. Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis occurs when the stomach and intestines are inflamed due to a bacterial or viral infection.

Viral gastroenteritis, which some doctors call stomach flu, is the most common form. Other causes include reactions to food or medications.

In the United States, around 179 million cases of acute gastroenteritis each year, according to a study in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. This makes it one of the most common illnesses.

Signs and symptoms of gastroenteritis include:

low-grade fever or chills
muscle aches
stomach cramps
Symptoms can persist for up to a week. Some treatment options include resting, staying hydrated, eating soft foods, and taking OTC medications.

3. Salmonella infection

Infection with Salmonella bacteria is a common occurrence in the U.S. It causes 1.2 million illnesses annually, according to the CDC. People typically get the infection as a result of consuming contaminated food or water.

Symptoms usually begin within 12–72 hours of infection and may include:

fever or chills
stomach cramps
Treatment is typically unnecessary, and most people recover within a few days. During this time, self-care measures can reduce discomfort. People with severe symptoms may require medication or even hospitalization.

4. Urinary tract infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria or other microbes infect the urinary tract. Females have a higher risk of developing UTIs than males do, with 40–60 percent of females experiencing one in their lifetime.

Symptoms may include:

an increase in urinary frequency
an increase in urinary urgency
burning pain when urinating
cloudy, strong-smelling, or pink urine
fever or chills
pain in the pelvis or back, which may radiate to the abdomen
passing small amounts of urine regularly
Most UTIs will require antibiotic treatment, but some home remedies can reduce discomfort until the infection clears up. Home remedies include drinking plenty of water, avoiding caffeine, and using a heating pad on the abdomen.

5. Kidney stones

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Drinking fluids can help small kidney stones pass through the urinary tract.
When minerals and salts build up in the kidneys, they can form hard deposits called kidney stones.

A 2018 review in the journal Advances in Urology suggests that 1 in 11 people in the U.S. develop kidney stones.

These hard deposits may not cause any symptoms until they change positions in the kidney or urinary tract.

Kidney stones can then result in:

changes in urinary habits and amount
cloudy, strong-smelling, or pink urine
fever and chills, in the case of an infection
pain in the abdomen, groin, sides, and back
painful urination
Small kidney stones can pass through the urinary tract on their own. It is helpful to drink fluids and take pain relivers until the stone passes.

At other times, it is necessary to undergo surgery or another type of medical procedure to remove the stone.

6. Prostatitis

Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland, which is just below the bladder in males.

Prostatitis has a prevalence rate of 8.2 percent and is “the most common urological diagnosis” in males aged 50 and under.

Bacterial prostatitis, which results from bacterial infection, causes:

difficulty urinating
flu-like symptoms, such as chills
cloudy or bloody urine
frequent urination
pain in the abdomen, lower back, genitals, or groin
painful urination and ejaculation
Treatment may include taking antibiotics and other medications. Using heating pads, making dietary changes, and making lifestyle changes may provide some symptom relief.

7. Mononucleosis

Infectious mononucleosis, or the kissing disease or mono, passes between people through saliva. Along with stomach pain and chills, symptoms include:

a sore throat
skin rash
swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits
swollen tonsils
Symptoms usually do not appear until 4–6 weeks after infection and last for up to 2 months.

Treatment includes resting, staying hydrated, and taking OTC pain relievers. Some people may require medications for secondary infections.

8. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a lung infection that causes inflammation of the air sacs. In the U.S., it is “a leading cause of hospitalization” in both adults and children.

Pneumonia symptoms, which range in severity, include:

chest pain
coughing up phlegm
difficulty breathing
stomach pain
Pneumonia can be life-threatening for older adults, children, and those who have a compromised immune system. People who have symptoms should always speak with a doctor.

Treatment includes taking medication, resting, and other home remedies. Some people may require hospitalization.

9. Gallbladder inflammation

Gallbladder inflammation, or cholecystitis, is swelling of the gallbladder, which is a pear-shaped organ in the abdomen.

Gallstones are the most common cause of gallbladder inflammation. According to a 2012 study in the journal Gut and Liver, around 10–15 percent of adults will develop gallstones. Other causes include tumors and infections.

Cholecystitis symptoms, which often get worse after eating large or fatty meals, include:

abdominal pain and tenderness, usually in the upper right or center
fever or chills
pain in the back or right shoulder
If left untreated, gallbladder inflammation can cause severe complications. Some treatment options include hospitalization, fasting, intravenous fluids, and taking pain relievers. Surgery may be necessary to remove the gallstones or the entire gallbladder.

10. Pelvic inflammatory disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) occurs when sexually transmitted bacteria, including chlamydia or gonorrhea, spread to the fallopian tubes, uterus, or ovaries.

Research from 2017, which appeared in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, suggests that 4.4 percent of sexually experienced females of reproductive age have PID.

PID does not always cause symptoms. Sometimes, people only realize that they have the condition when they experience difficulty getting pregnant.

If symptoms do occur, they include:

bleeding between periods
bleeding during or after sex
difficult or painful urination
heavy and foul-smelling vaginal discharge
pain in the lower abdomen and pelvis
Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics to people with PID. Sexual partners also require treatment.

Without treatment, the infection can cause chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility.

11. Appendicitis

Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix, which is a piece of tissue attached to the large intestine.

Appendicitis affects 1 in 1,000 people in the U.S., usually those aged 10–30 years old.

The condition causes pain on the lower right-hand side of the abdomen. This tends to get worse over time and may occur alongside:

fever or chills
loss of appetite
Surgery is usually necessary to remove the appendix.

12. Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis occurs when diverticula, which are bulging pouches that form in the gut’s lining, develop an infection or inflammation.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, these pouches may form in 35 percent of U.S. adults aged 50 and below, and in 58 percent of all people over the age of 60. However, most cases do not progress to diverticulitis.

Symptoms include:

constipation or diarrhea
fever or chills
stomach pain, which may be severe and persistent
Mild cases typically clear up by taking antibiotics, resting, and making dietary changes. Severe cases may require surgical intervention.

Other causes

Stomach pain and chills may have other less common symptoms, including:

cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that causes organ damage
epididymitis, or inflammation of the epididymis, which is a coiled tube at the back of the testicles
heart attack, but only in rare cases
leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow
malaria, an infectious disease that mosquitoes carry
meningitis, or inflammation of membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord
pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas
peritonitis, or inflammation of the peritoneum tissue in the abdomen
scarlet fever, a bacterial illness
shingles, a viral infection similar to chickenpox
tuberculosis, a bacterial infection of the lungs
Weil’s disease, a bacterial infection often transmitted by rodents
yellow fever, an infection that mosquitoes carry