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The central area of the abdomen above the umbilicus, just below the ribcage, is called the epigastric region. There are several disorders that may cause pain in the epigastric region. Pain in this region is often confused with chest pain. This is the reason why pain in the epigastric region should be diagnosed properly.

The signs and symptoms that you have mentioned are indicative of gastritis.

What is gastritis?

Gastritis is an inflammation and erosion of the inner lining of the stomach

The factors that may cause this condition include:

  • Excessive alcohol

  • Spicy foods

  • Fried foods

  • Excess coffee or tea

  • Medicines such as pain killers

Signs and symptoms

Patients suffering from gastritis usually complain of moderate to severe pain in the epigastric region. Some patients may complain of chest pain but the pain is actually abdominal. Some other symptoms of gastritis include:

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Bloating / gas

  • Heartburn

  • Loss of appetite

The pain can sometimes be so severe that it wakes you up at night.

The same symptoms may appear in some other disorders. Therefore, it is important to diagnose the disease properly. Some other diseases with the same signs and symptoms include:

Pancreatitis: An inflammation of the pancreas characterized by severe upper abdominal pain. The characteristic that differentiates pancreatic pain from others is the radiation of the pain. The pain tends to radiate towards the back in patients suffering from pancreatitis. Another major distinguishing feature of pancreatitis is that the stools of these patients are bulky and hard to flush. Nausea and vomiting are seen in almost all cases of pancreatitis.

Inflammatory bowel disease: An inflammation of the digestive system resulting from various factors which include diet, stress, medication, and alcohol. Diarrhea with abdominal pain or pain during bowel movements is one of the main presenting symptoms of this disorder.

Peptic ulcer: A breakage in the continuity of the stomach wall is known as a peptic ulcer. The wall of the stomach, a mucus membrane, protects the organs from the acid that is normally present in the digestive tract. It also provides protection from the fluids and foods that may cause harm to the stomach. Due to the causes mentioned above, this wall may rupture resulting in the development of an ulcer. This causes bleeding due to which patients experience blood in vomit or blood with stools.

It is recommended that you visit your doctor for the confirmation of the diagnosis. The diagnosis is made by physical examination along with the lab tests that include:

  • Ultrasound

  • Endoscopy

  • Helicobacter pylori test

  • Stool test

Your doctor may advise more tests if results are suspicious.

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