Many conditions cause pain in the upper abdomen, including heart problems such as decreased cardiac blood flow, which doctors call angina, or a heart attack. Problems with the digestive system, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcer or intestinal obstruction also cause this type of pain, Mayo Clinic explains.
A sharp pain in the upper-middle portion of the abdomen that moves to the right side under the rib cage may indicate gall stones. These attacks frequently occur after eating and are sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting, says Today Health. Acute pancreatitis creates similar symptoms, with pain that radiates to the left side of the abdomen or the back. People with this condition usually also feel very sick and have a fever, a rapid heartbeat and abdominal tenderness, reports eMedicineHealth.
The lungs also are located in the upper portion of the abdominal cavity, so lung problems such as pneumonia, pleurisy or air in the pleural cavity sometimes cause upper abdominal pain. Some forms of cancer, such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, also may cause generalized upper abdominal pain, Mayo Clinic states.
Home remedies, such as eating smaller meals and avoiding medicines that irritate the stomach, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, often alleviate mild, upper-abdominal pain. However, severe pain, pain associated with trauma, or pressure or tightness in the chest should be evaluated by a health care professional immediately, Mayo Clinic warns.