What Are The Potential Complications Of Stomach Cramps
Complications associated with stomach cramps can be progressive and vary depending on the underlying cause. Because stomach cramps can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in complications and permanent damage.
It is important to visit your healthcare provider when you have persistent stomach cramps or other unusual symptoms. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, following the treatment plan outlined by your doctor can help reduce any potential complications including:
due to a decreased desire to drink fluids or fluid loss due to diarrhea and
How Is Abdominal Pain Diagnosed
The cause of abdominal pain is diagnosed based on your symptom history, a physical examination, and testing, if needed. Your doctor is likely to ask you questions about the characteristics of your pain, and whether you have any underlying physical or mental health conditions that could be contributing to your abdominal pain.
Questions from your doctor may address the following aspects of your abdominal pain:
- Where its located
- Whether its dull, stabbing, burning, or cramping
- Whether it comes and goes
- When you experience or notice it most
- Whether it radiates outward to other areas of your body
- How long youve had it
- Whether any activities or actions seem to make it worse or better
Your doctor may also ask about your overall health history, any recent injuries, and whether you might be pregnant.
- Blood, urine, or stool tests
- X-ray of the abdomen
- Computerized tomography scan of the abdomen
- Barium enema
- Endoscopic procedures
Serious Symptoms That Might Indicate A Life
In some cases, stomach cramps may accompany symptoms that might indicate a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care for symptoms such as:
Bloody or black stools, or major
Difficulty breathing or severe shortness of breath
Pulsating mass in abdomen
Rapid pulse or rapid breathing
Severe abdominal pain or swelling
unrelated to normal menstruation
Vomiting blood or black material
Yellow skin and eyes
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Causes Of Stomach Cramps And Diarrhea
Many causes of digestive upset will also result in stomach cramping and diarrhea. Cramps in the lower abdominal area usually feel like short, sharp pains that donât last very long. Stomach cramps may also feel as if your belly muscles are tightening.
Some of the reasons for stomach aches that also cause stomach cramping and loose stool are:
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Listen To A Hypnotherapy Recording
Hypnosis has strong research support for easing the symptoms of IBS, including abdominal pain. Ideally, you want to be engaged in an ongoing hypnotherapy treatment program for best results. But when you are in immediate pain, you may be able to benefit from the relaxation of listening to a hypnosis CD or recording that focuses on the gut.
The quickest way is to download an app on your smartphone or other mobile device. There are quite a few IBS-specific hypnotherapy apps available. It’s best to find one that’s backed by research, like Nerva.
- Learn More:Signs and Symptoms of IBS
- What medications can reduce IBS pain quickly?
Anticholinergics reduce spasms, which can decrease the pain of IBS. Examples include hyoscyamine and dicyclomine. They should usually be taken 30 to 60 minutes before a meal.
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Causes Of Abdominal Pain And Diarrhea In Pregnant People
Pregnant people are especially prone to abdominal pain and diarrhea. One common reason is that many people make changes to their diet when they find out theyre pregnant. This can cause digestive trouble.
If youre pregnant, you may also start having sensitivities to particular foods. This can include foods you eat on a regular basis, resulting in abdominal pain and diarrhea. On top of that, hormone changes in your reproductive system that occur during pregnancy may also cause these symptoms.
Seek medical help if youre having abdominal pain and diarrhea that last for 3 days, if the pain grows increasingly worse over a 24-hour period, or if its accompanied by any of these symptoms:
- frequent nausea or vomiting
- a sustained fever of 101°F for adults or 100.4°F for children
- stool that contains blood or dried blood, which looks like wet coffee grounds
- an inability to keep food down
- extreme thirst or dry mouth
- an inability to speak or see
- mental confusion or loss of consciousness
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- swelling of the genitals
- external bleeding
Diarrhea can be more dangerous for infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. In these cases, discuss symptoms with a doctor.
If you dont have a primary care doctor, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
Home Remedies For Stomach Cramps
Dietary and eating habit changes can help provide stomach cramps relief. To ease and prevent mild stomach cramps and promote digestive health, try the following:
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day and with meals
Eating smaller meals throughout the day
Increasing fiber in your diet by eating foods, such as beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains
Limiting gas-producing foods, dairy, and fatty or fried foods
Reducing the amount of air you swallow by avoiding straws, chewing thoroughly, eating slowly, and quitting
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When To Contact A Clinician
Persistent or severe abdominal pain, especially if unrelieved by vomiting or passing a bowel movement
Fever greater than 101 degrees F, not relieved by acetaminophen, or any fever that lasts more than three days
Vomiting or diarrhea without any improvement for more 24 hours
Blood in vomit or stools
No urination for more than 8 hours, or painful urination
When To See A Doctor
An upset stomach and indigestion should not usually cause concern. For most people, symptoms should go away within a few hours. As older adults and children can become dehydrated much more quickly, they should seek medical attention for vomiting and diarrhea that lasts for more than a day.
People with severe, frequent, or persistent stomach problems should talk to a doctor. It is also best to seek medical attention if the following symptoms are present:
- continual or uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea
- chronic constipation
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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.
How To Get Rid Of Lower Abdominal Pain
Women often experience pain in the lower abdomen due to their periods or menstruation. But abdominal pain is not just a womens issue, men also experience this problem.
Lower abdominal pain is common and often easily remedied. But if you have such pain on a regular basis, do not take it lightly.
Simple problems like swallowing excess air, eating high-fat foods that lead to delayed stomach emptying, food poisoning and even stress can cause lower abdominal pain. But certain health issues can also cause this problem.
Some of the health-related causes include constipation, lactose or gluten intolerance, gastroenteritis, colitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease , intestinal obstruction, gastroparesis, Crohns disease, diverticulitis, kidney disorders, appendicitis, hernias, gonorrhea, liver cirrhosis and irritable bowel syndrome, to name a few.
In some cases, lower abdominal pain in women can be related to the reproductive system, including pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, menstrual pain, premenstrual syndrome , ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts and pelvic inflammatory disease.
As there can be so many reasons behind lower abdominal pain, it is highly recommended to consult your doctor to find out the exact cause of the problem.
However, for mild cases, you can use some home remedies and lifestyle changes to see improvement in your condition.
Here are the top 10 ways to get rid of lower abdominal pain.
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Nsaid Drugs And Stomach Ulcers
A group of painkillers known as NSAIDs carries a risk of stomach ulcers. The two best-known NSAIDs are aspirin and ibuprofen.
The risk of ulcers increases if the drugs are taken in high doses, or regularly for a long time.
Stronger NSAIDs, such as those that need a prescription, are riskier for stomach ulcers than those that can be bought over-the-counter .
People should always check labels and talk to a pharmacist or a doctor about any concerns with using painkillers. They may recommend an alternative such as acetaminophen.
Why Can Diagnosis Of The Cause Of Abdominal Pain Be Difficult
Modern advances in technology have greatly improved the accuracy, speed, and ease of establishing the cause of belly pain, but significant challenges remain. There are many reasons why diagnosing the cause of it can be difficult.
Symptoms may be atypical
- For example, the pain of appendicitis sometimes is located in the right upper abdomen and diverticulitis on the right side. Elderly patients and those taking corticosteroids may have little or no pain and tenderness when there is inflammation, for example, with cholecystitis or diverticulitis. This occurs because corticosteroids reduce inflammation.
Tests are not always abnormal.
- Ultrasound examinations can miss gallstones, particularly small ones.
- CT scans may fail to show pancreatic cancer, particularly small ones.
- The KUB can miss the signs of intestinal obstruction or stomach perforation.
- Ultrasounds and CT scans may fail to demonstrate appendicitis or even abscesses, particularly if the abscesses are small.
- The CBC and other blood tests may be normal despite severe infection or inflammation, particularly in individuals receiving corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress the immune system.
Diseases can mimic one another.
The characteristics of the pain may change.
- Examples discussed previously include the extension of the inflammation of pancreatitis to involve the entire abdomen and the progression of biliary colic to cholecystitis.
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When To Make An Appointment To See Your Doctor
Schedule an appointment to see your doctor if:
- Your stomach pain doesnt go away within a couple of days.
- The pain comes back after going away.
- Symptoms like diarrhea dont go away within a couple of days.
- Youre urinating more or less often, and/or its painful.
- You have unintended weight loss.
Know your body, Dr. Kingsley says. If you start having pain that you have not had before and does not go away, you should contact your doctor to be evaluated further.
Bottom line: Trust your gut! Contact your doctor if youre concerned about lingering or unusual stomach pain.
Editor’s Note: This infographic was originally published on June 24, 2014.
Related Conditions Of Abdominal Pain
Some of the most common conditions associated with abdominal pain include the following:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome This condition is characterized by symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, and bloating.
Constipation If you arent having regular bowel movements, you may feel bloated and full and experience sharp gas pains in your abdomen.
Peptic Ulcer When a sore develops in the lining of your stomach or upper small intestine, you may experience a burning sensation similar to hunger pangs, along with nausea, vomiting, or heartburn.
Pancreatitis Inflammation of your pancreas may cause sharp, severe pain in the upper middle area of your abdomen, along with nausea, vomiting, or fever. This condition can be either acute or chronic.
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How To Deal If You Think Your Have Ibs Or You Already Have Ibs:
If you think IBS is the cause of your stomach cramps and gas consult your doctor. Your doctor with review your symptoms and may need some laboratory investigations to confirm your condition.
REMEMBER: you cannot diagnose yourself for the first time with IBS, you have to see a doctor.
Read more about How is IBS diagnosed
If you already have IBS, then it is probably the cause of your stomach cramps and gas, try to:
- Stay away from diets that trigger your IBS and cause Gas plus other specific foods that may play a role in your IBS like FODMAPs and grassy foods.
- Eat slowly, move after eating.
- Take over-the-counter medications for stomach cramps and gas .
Taking Care Of Yourself At Home
Most abdominal pain goes away without special treatment. Be guided by your doctor, but there are some things you can do to help ease the pain, including:
- Place a hot water bottle or heated wheat bag on your abdomen.
- Soak in a warm bath. Take care not to scald yourself.
- Drink plenty of clear fluids such as water.
- Reduce your intake of coffee, tea and alcohol as these can make the pain worse.
- When you are allowed to eat again, start with clear liquids, then progress to bland foods such as crackers, rice, bananas or toast. Your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Try over-the-counter antacids, to help reduce some types of pain.
- Take mild painkillers such as paracetamol. Please check the packet for the right dose. Avoid aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs unless advised to take them by a doctor. These drugs can make some types of abdominal pain worse.
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Symptoms Of Abdominal Pain In Adults
The type of pain can vary greatly. When abdominal pain occurs, it can:
- be sharp, dull, stabbing, cramp-like, twisting or fit many other descriptions
- be brief, come and go in waves, or it can be constant
- make you throw up
- make you want to stay still or make you so restless that you pace around trying to find just the right position
- vary from a minor problem to one needing urgent surgery.
How Is The Cause Of Abdominal Pain Diagnosed
Abdominal pain is one of the most common symptoms seen by GPs .
Information about your symptoms and the location of the abdominal pain can help a doctor diagnose the cause of your pain. They will want to know how long you have had the pain and may want to do a physical examination. If you are female, this may include a pelvic examination. If you are male, it may include checking your penis and scrotum.
They may suggest you have some blood tests or other diagnostic procedures done, especially if you have had the symptoms for some time.
Tests and procedures that may help in diagnosing the cause of abdominal pain include:
Other procedures that may be suggested, depending on your gender, include:
- pregnancy test and/or pelvic ultrasound
- ultrasound of the scrotum
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What Are Stomach Cramps
Stomach cramps are cyclical tightening of the muscles of the gut that cause pain. It is a nonspecific symptom that refers to the pain present anywhere in the abdominal area. Organs in the abdomen include the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, gallbladder and pancreas, and any disorder in these organs may cause pain. Most stomach cramps are not serious and heal with home remedies. However, cramps that last for a long time need a consultation with a physician.
How To Prevent Stomach Cramps
Keep stress levels under control. If the condition coincides with stressful situations, try to avoid stress as much as possible, and look at learning stress management techniques.
Manage your weight. When you carry extra pounds around your mid-section, your stomach gets pushed upward and acid backs up into your esophagus. To lose weight, get some regular exercise, and cook healthily.
Exercise regularly. Try to include stretching as part of your exercise routine.
Notice if there is any food that seems to disagree with your digestive system. If you suffer from stomach cramps often, this may be indicative of an intolerance to certain foods. It is advisable to keep a food diary and try to determine if there is an association with a certain food or group of foods and your stomach cramps.
- Failing to drink sufficient liquids may cause stomach cramps. This can be exacerbated by strenuous exercise.
- Eating an excessive amount of non-soluble fiber may cause cramps associated with constipation.
- Milk and milk products may cause cramps and stomach pain in people who are lactose intolerant.
- Some people are sensitive to uncooked vegetables and fruits, particularly if the peels are not removed.
- Limit gas-producing goods .
Other Stomach Cramps Causes
Other causes that can result in stomach cramps include the following.
- Anxiety: Frequent worry takes a physical toll on the body and proper treatment from a professional goes a long way in relieving symptoms.
- Medications: Certain drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen can be harsh on the stomach, especially when taken without food. There are suggestions to keep in mind when taking these medications to avoid abdominal cramps.
- Menstrual pain: Women can experience stomach cramps as a regular part of the menstrual cycle.
Home Remedies For Stomach Cramps & Aches
Eat probiotics and fermented foods. Probiotics come in many forms and have been reported to significantly relieve stomach aches. Kombucha, yogurt, kefir and lacto-fermented vegetables are all good sources of probiotics.
Make an apple cider vinegar and honey elixir. An old folk recipe with a lot of modern praise, it may not work for everyone, but, if you feel up for it, give it a shot it might be just what your stomach needs. Try mixing a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. Drink up!
Enjoy some mint. Fresh peppermint tea can help relax stomach muscles. It also helps improve the flow of bile, which helps you digest properly. This is especially useful if suffering from indigestion or bloating.
- Cover the peppermint with 1 cup of boiling water, cover, and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Sip slowly while its still toasty warm. If using the fresh peppermint leaves, you can chew on them as well to ease stomach pains. You can also just use a pre-made teabag if you find that more desirable.
Make cinnamon tea. Gently boil two cups of water and two cinnamon sticks together for 15-20 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and pour into a mug or glass. Add a tablespoon of honey for sweetness.
Make peppermint tea. Some people prefer peppermint tea to cinnamon tea. Both will help relieve your stomach ache and help you relax.
- Mix 8 ounces of club soda with the juice of half a lime. Stir and sip slowly.
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