How Stomach Pain Develops
The causes of stomach pain or gastrointestinal spasm are often varied.
Even when the digestive process is actually normal: As soon as chyme enters the stomach through the oesophageal sphincter , the stomach muscles start their rippling and kneading movements to mix the food. The food pulp previously minced in the mouth and mixed with saliva is stored and prepared for further digestion. The solid food then spends up to five hours in the stomach. Then it passes in portions into the intestine.
The intestine splits the chyme into its smallest, utilizable components the nutrients. For this purpose, the digestive juices from the pancreas and the gall bladder are added directly at the beginning of the small intestine. Once they have done their job, the intestinal mucosa is able to do the absorption: thanks to its numerous folds and large surface area, it can absorb numerous nutrient components that can be used by the body and pass them on to the blood. The colon afterwards extracts the remaining fluids and excretes what cannot be utilized.
If this sophisticated system gets out of balance, it may cause stomach pain or gastrointestinal spasms.
In addition to stomach pain and gastrointestinal spasms, the following gastrointestinal symptoms may occur in parallel:
- Pressing feeling in the stomach
- Abdominal pain
- Intestinal cramps
Dietary Stomach Cramps Causes
Causes of stomach cramps may be related to your eating habits, especially if you change them suddenly.
- Overeating: If you overeat, your stomach will be forced to stretch to accommodate a higher volume of food.
- Spicy or oily foods: Eating new or rich dishes that your digestive system isn’t used to can cause stomach discomfort.
- Dairy products: Some people’s bodies are not able to break down dairy products like milk, yogurt, or ice cream.
- Gluten: This is a type of protein found in grains like wheat and barley that should be avoided by people with Celiac Disease.
The Link Between Your Gut Microbiome And Your Health
In addition, many of the underlying conditions that cause abdominal pain can lead to serious complications, including the possibility of structural damage to the digestive system from infection, cancer and its treatments, and inflammatory bowel disease .
To reduce the risk of complications, its important to seek medical attention for your abdominal pain if its sudden and severe, or if it includes symptoms like fever, bloody stool, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, or visible swelling.
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Treatment And Home Remedies For Abdominal Pain
How abdominal pain is treated is highly dependent on the diagnosis. Medications that reduce inflammation may help with stomach pains resulting from ulcers.
But other conditions, like kidney stones, may require more intensive treatment like shock wave lithotripsy. Inflammation of the gall bladder might require gall bladder surgery.
If you and your doctor have determined that your abdominal pain is not the result of a serious medical condition, there are a number of home health remedies that may provide relief. Heres a brief list:
- bitters and soda
- BRAT diet
Not all forms of abdominal pain are preventable. But you can minimize the risk of developing abdominal pain by:
- eating a healthy diet
- exercising regularly
- eating smaller meals
If you have an intestinal disorder, like Crohns disease, follow the diet your doctor has given you to minimize discomfort. If you have GERD, dont eat within 2 hours of bedtime.
Lying down too soon after eating may cause heartburn and abdominal pain. Try waiting at least 2 hours after eating before lying down.
Do Seafood Allergies Cause Stomach Cramps
Cause. Stomach cramps are caused by the presence of histamine in the intestines. When you experience an allergic reaction, your body creates various chemicals to fight off the proteins from the seafood. Histamine and immunoglobulin E, or IgE, antibodies are the two chemicals that primarily cause allergic reaction symptoms.
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Underlying Causes Of Stomach Pain And Diarrhea
- Underlying Causes of Stomach Pain and Diarrhea
Everyone at some point will struggle with stomach cramps and diarrhea, which are often accompanied by abdominal pain and cramping. There are myriad reasons why you may be experiencing abdominal pain, cramps, or diarrhea. Most arent too serious, and many dont even require a trip to the doctor. However, even if you have a mild case of gastrointestinal upset, its wise to deduce whats causing it, so you can feel better faster and ultimately receive treatment if you need it.
Read on to learn about the most common causes of stomach pain and diarrhea, and if you should see a doctor.
Stomach Or Peptic Ulcers
Ulcers or wounds that will not heal tend to cause severe and persistent abdominal pain. It can also lead to bloating, indigestion, and weight loss.
The most common causes of stomach and peptic ulcers are the bacteria H. pylori and the overuse or continued use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications .
If you would like to know more about stomach ulcers, click here.
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Should I See A Doctor If I Get Stomach Pains When I Am Stressed
You should be seeing your primary care physician at least once a year, and you should tell them if you often have stomach pain or GI discomfort.
If your primary care physician identifies symptoms of a chronic GI condition or other warning signs, they may refer you to a gastroenterologist like myself. A gastroenterologist can help determine if your stomach pain or GI symptoms are related to stress, or due to another condition that requires different treatment.
When Should You See A Doctor For Stomach Cramps
Stomach cramps from everyday causes, like gas, will resolve on their own. However, there are times when you should see a doctor about stomach cramps. It is the safest option to find potentially serious causes and get the correct treatment.
Make an appointment to see your doctor if mild stomach cramping lasts for a few days or is causing concern. See a doctor promptly when:
You also have abdominal pain or bloating that does not improve after a couple of days.
You are experiencing irregular or prolonged menstrual bleeding.
You are experiencing or loss of appetite.
You have a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting that persists for several days.
You have or pain or burning with urination.
You have , which is a yellowing of the skin and eyes.
or go to your nearest emergency room for stomach cramps when:
You are pregnant or could be pregnant.
You are unable to pass stool.
You are or a coffee ground-like material or have bloody stools.
You had a recent injury or trauma involving the abdomen.
You have or discomfort, shortness of breath, , or arm, neck or .
Your abdomen is tender to touch, hard or swollen, or you have severe .
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When Should My Child See A Doctor
Many children recover from abdominal pain quickly and dont need to see a doctor.
Take your child to a doctor immediately or go to your nearest hospital emergency department if they:
- are in pain that goes on for longer than 24 hours or if youre worried about them
- have pain that is severe or debilitating even though they have taken pain medicine
- are hard to wake and are unwell
- vomit for more than 24 hours, or they are unable to keep any fluids down, refusing to drink any fluids and their vomit is green
- have blood in their poo or vomit
- are having trouble doing a wee
- have pain and lumps in the groin
- were recently injured for example, falling onto the handlebars of a bike
If your child is still a baby and they have fewer than 4 wet nappies per day, as well as their abdominal pain, you should take them to a doctor immediately or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.
Home Remedies For Immediate Relief
If your stomach spasms are bothering you, there are ways you can get immediate relief or treat them at home. Some at-home treatments will treat the underlying cause of muscle spasms, while others relax the stomach muscles so that they stop spasming.
If youre having stomach spasms in pregnancy, talk to your doctor before trying any home remedies. Some home treatments may not be safe during pregnancy.
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When Should You See A Doctor
If you experience severe or chronic stomach cramps, see a doctor for further evaluation. As a rule of thumb, any symptom that seems unusual and persists for a long time should be addressed.
Make note of any other symptoms youre experiencing, such as indigestion, bloating, and excessive fatigue. You should seek immediate medical treatment if you experience stomach cramps along with:
- pain that suddenly gets worse
- dark, bloody, or tar-like stools
What To Expect At Your Office Visit
Your provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms and medical history. Your specific symptoms, the location of pain and when it occurs will help your provider detect the cause.
LOCATION OF YOUR PAIN
- Where do you feel the pain?
- Is it all over or in one spot?
- Does the pain move into your back, groin, or down your legs?
TYPE AND INTENSITY OF YOUR PAIN
- Is the pain severe, sharp, or cramping?
- Do you have it all the time, or does it come and go?
- Does the pain wake you up at night?
HISTORY OF YOUR PAIN
- Have you had similar pain in the past? How long has each episode lasted?
- When does the pain occur? For example, after meals or during menstruation?
- What makes the pain worse? For example, eating, stress, or lying down?
- What makes the pain better? For example, drinking milk, having a bowel movement, or taking an antacid?
- What medicines are you taking?
OTHER MEDICAL HISTORY
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How Long Will I Need To Take Laxatives For
If youve had constipation for a short time, your pharmacist will usually advise you to stop taking the laxative once your stools are soft and easily passed.
However, if your constipation is caused by an underlying medical condition or a medicine youre taking, your GP may advise you to take laxatives for much longer, possibly many months or even years.
If youve been taking laxatives for some time, you may have to gradually reduce your dose, rather than coming off them straight away. If you have been prescribed a combination of laxatives, youll normally have to reduce the dosage of each laxative, one at a time, before you can stop taking them. This can take several months.
Your GP will advise you about when its best to stop taking long-term laxatives.
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What Causes Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain has many potential causes and is not entirely understood in some cases. More sudden symptom onset could suggests an organ condition that should be addressed by a medical professional.
In general, abdominal pain is brought about by a few specific conditions:
- Digestive issues that cause bloating or burning sensations in your intestines such as irritable bowel syndrome can make your abdominal section ache.
- Distended organs can lead to painful complications in your abdominal area as well.
- Low or impeded blood flow to an organ in the area can cause abdominal pain, as can general inflammation of an organ in your stomach region.
While the causes of left / right side, upper or lower abdominal cramps are multiple, most forms of common treatment point to one or two sources of medication bought from a drugstore. For seriously painful cases of abdominal muscle cramps or lower back pain you should always consult your doctor , but most of the time you can opt for natural medicine to get rid of abdominal cramping symptoms.
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Treatments For Mucus In Stool
Bacteria found in the stool will sometimes be treated with antibiotics, and resting will help to pass and heal the symptoms.
Eating habits may need to change to lessen the chances of catching a bug again. This approach is also the case with a food allergy. Should one be present, lifestyle changes need to occur quickly.
In some instances, prescription medication and ongoing treatment will need to be taken. Such cases include Crohns disease and some other gut-related diseases. Surgery may be required for those with anal fissures and rectal ulcers.
Some over-the-counter probiotics and supplements can help those with irregular daily bowel movements, constipation, or diarrhea.
People should speak with a doctor or pharmacist before taking medication. Keeping a journal may help people with frequent and persistent mucus in their stool to note patterns. This tool is very helpful for doctors as well.
Coping Techniques And Resources To Help Kids Thrive
With functional abdominal pain, there isnt necessarily a definite treatment or medication that will cure kids discomfort.
Its more about helping these kids learn coping techniques and identify the triggers that exacerbate their symptoms, said Pattamanuch. Children may need more screening for depression or anxiety from a mental health professional. There are helpful clinics at Seattle Childrens for this.
Some kids may be referred to the Biofeedback Clinic, where they can learn relaxation techniques to decrease the intensity of their pain. They may also be referred to the Pain Medicine Clinic where they could undergo an in-depth assessment to help manage their pain.
Aside from these resources, Pattamanuch often works with kids on simple techniques they can practice at home and implement into their daily lives to alleviate their recurring abdominal pain and discomfort. These include:
While all kids have unique needs, some may require medication to help with their symptoms. However, Pattamanuch says theres careful consideration when offering this treatment.
When needed, we have some medications we can prescribe to help relax the gastrointestinal tract, but often they arent useful because theyre not addressing the root cause of the issue, said Pattamanuch. Its most beneficial for kids to learn how to get in-tune with their psychological triggers and try to address those issues first and foremost.
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
If your stomachache is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, you should see your healthcare provider:
- Nausea and vomiting for several days
- Bloody stools
- Pain persists for several days
- Signs of dehydration
Any of the aforementioned symptoms signal something may be wrong, such as an infection or illness, that requires medical attention.
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Causes Of Abdominal Pain And Diarrhea
Frequent, constant, or severe abdominal pain and diarrhea may indicate a disease or a more serious medical issue. Diarrhea that gets progressively worse and is bloody can also be a sign of a more serious issue. Possible causes of abdominal pain and diarrhea include:
The above conditions and disorders can cause inflammation in different parts of your digestive tract, like the stomach and intestines. When your digestive system is inflamed, you might have cramps and trouble with typical digestive processes. This usually results in abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Abdominal pain and diarrhea that last for more than a week or keep coming back may be a sign of an intestinal disease or disorder. Talk with your doctor if youve experienced these symptoms for more than a week or on a reoccurring basis.
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Wheres Your Abdominal Bloating And Pain
Pain in different areas of the abdomen can mean different things.
Abdominal pain can be anywhere between the chest and the pelvis. People often call it a stomachache. The pain can also be:
Causes of abdominal bloating and pain can vary from mild to severe. Most of the time, abdominal bloating and pain occur due to:
This kind of bloating or pain is usually normal and will go away within two hours.
In cases of the stomach flu, you may feel intense pain or bloating that comes and goes before each episode of vomiting or diarrhea. Stomach viruses usually go away with rest and home care.
This guide lists the organs associated with different locations of abdominal bloating or pain:
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When To See A Doctor About Abdominal Pain
Go straight to your doctor or the emergency department of the nearest hospital if you have any of:
- severe pain
- pain lasting for several hours
- pain and/or vaginal bleeding if you are pregnant
- pain in your scrotum if you are a male
- pain and vomiting or shortness of breath
- pain and vomiting blood
- blood in your bowel motions or urine
- pain that spreads to your chest, neck or shoulder
- fever and sweats
- unable to move your bowels or pass gas
- any other concerns.
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When Is Stomach Pain Most Likely To Occur
If you have anxiety, stomach pain can occur at any time even when no anxiety is present. However, many people experience stomach pain during panic attacks.
The exact link between an anxiety attack and stomach pain is not clear, other than the fact that during a panic attack, your body is under a considerable amount of stress, and your hormones are often on overdrive. Also, those with anxiety attacks are prone to hyperventilation, which may lead to symptoms that create stomach pain.