First Up: Is It Actually Your Stomach That Hurts
Before we get into the most common causes of a crampy middle after eating, lets clear up something many of us have been unknowingly getting wrong since we were kids. When you say your stomach hurts, chances are youre talking about the part of your torso between your chest and your hips. This part of your body is technically your abdomen. Your stomach starts a bit under your chest on your left side and extends down into the middle of your torso.
Its no surprise, then, that figuring out exactly what hurts in this general area can be tricky. There are organs that overlap, Nitin Ahuja, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of clinical medicine in the gastroenterology department in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, tells SELF. The small intestine occupies a lot of space, and the colon sort of drapes around the entire abdomen and overlaps of the stomach as well.
Also, depending on what is going on, the nerves in the abdomen may not be as good at localizing pain, Dr. Ahuja says, so it might be hard to tell where the pain is coming from. Keep all of this in mind as you try to figure out what might be causing your post-eating cramps. Now, for the next bit of background information you need to know, since high school biology was a long time ago for some of us
The Pain Is In Your Lower Right Abdomen Came On Suddenly And Is Getting Worse
Sigh. Classic appendicitis. This inflammation of the appendix often starts around the belly button before moving to the lower right abdomen, the NIDDK says, and it can be Truly The Worst. The pain usually becomes progressively more intense, Dr. Lee says, often within a matter of hours. People have described it as knives carving up my insides and genuinely the worst pain Ive ever felt in my life. The pain may also get worse when you move around, take deep breaths, cough, or sneeze, the NIDDK says, and come along with symptoms like fever, nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and swelling.
If you have these symptoms, dont try to wait them out. Call your doctor or seek out medical care as quickly as possible. Appendicitis requires immediate attention, Dr. Tripathi says. Without prompt medical care, your appendix could burst.
Lower Back And Stomach Pain: Possible Causes And Treatments
Lower back and stomach pain is an unpleasant and worrying experience for any person. Because there are a number of organs in the abdominal and lower back area, there are many different reasons for having pain there. Pain in the stomach and lower back can be caused by constipation, stones in the kidney or gallbladder, or a cyst. However, sometimes the pain could be a sign of a more serious condition like appendicitis or even a heart attack.
Lower back and abdominal pain should never be ignored. Some home remedies can help you find relief from some of the symptoms of lower abdomen and back pain. However, if your symptoms last for more than a few days, or you experience intense or severe pain in your stomach and back, you should visit your doctor for a checkup. This is especially true if the pain is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, severe cramps, or pains in your chest.
Lets look at the different reasons why you can experience lower back and stomach pain. This will help you find the root cause of your pain and discomfort and discover if there are any natural home remedies to give you relief.
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Heres How The Digestive System Works
Or how digestion should work when everything goes according to plan.
Your body employs multiple organs to turn the food you eat into energy. When everything is going well, you should barely notice this process, which is good because it can actually take a pretty long time. The Mayo Clinic estimates that it takes two to five days for a mouthful of food to go through all the various digestive processes and come out the other end looking unrecognizable.
First, though, this all starts with one bite. Between the chewing action of your mouth and the enzymes and lubrication from your saliva, you start to break down what youre eating, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains. Once the bite is small enough to swallow, your tongue pushes it to the back of your throat into your esophagus, which begins to contract automatically in a motion called peristalsis.
The first organ the newly chewed food encounters after this is the stomach. Muscles in your stomach walls churn the food and release acid and enzymes, slowly mixing the food into a paste called chyme. Your stomach gradually releases the chyme into the small intestine, which reduces it further by mixing it with enzymes from the pancreas and from bacteria, along with bile from the liver, all while pushing the chyme further through the digestive tract. The walls of the small intestine absorb the extracted nutrients and water, which move into your bloodstream.
Can Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Cause Menstrual Cramps
Pelvic inflammatory disease;is an infection of the female reproductive tract that is most commonly caused by untreated sexually transmitted infections. Left untreated, PID can cause inflammation, scarring, painful menstrual cramps, and infertility.
most often occurs because sexually transmitted infections that cause PID can create scar tissue and adhesions in the pelvic region. During;menstruation,;hormones influence the uterus and surrounding structures including the scar tissue and adhesions; which can increase inflammation, bleeding, and pain,” says;Shilpi Agarwal, MD,;a board-certified family medicine and integrative physician in Washington, DC, and a;columnist for Everyday Health. If caught early, PID can be treated with antibiotics, but antibiotics wont undo any structural damage caused by the infection. Practice safe sex, and get tested frequently for any sexually transmitted infections, especially if you have severe period pain, Dr. Agarwal advises.
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When Should I See My Doctor
Sometimes, abdominal pain can signal something serious. You should see your doctor immediately or go to your nearest hospital emergency department if you:
- have pain that is severe and is getting worse
- have pain that spreads to your chest, neck or shoulders
- have pain that lasts for several hours or longer
- have pain and vaginal bleeding and you are pregnant
- have pain in the scrotum
- have pain and vomiting or shortness of breath
- have pain and vomiting blood
- have blood in bowel motions or urine
- cant pee , do a poo or fart
- are experiencing vomiting that wont go away
If you have a sudden, severe, debilitating pain in your abdomen, go to your nearest hospital emergency department or call triple zero immediately and ask for an ambulance. It may be a sign of a serious illness that requires urgent treatment.
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
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How Do I Know If My Cramps Are Severe
Menstrual cramps feel like a throbbing or cramping pain in your lower abdomen. You may also feel pressure or a continuous dull ache in the area. The pain may radiate to your lower back and inner thighs.
Cramps usually begin a day or two before your period, peaking around 24 hours after your period starts. They typically last for two to three days.
Menstrual cramps can be accompanied by other symptoms, including:
- spotting between periods
Other Causes Of Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain can also be caused by problems in body systems other than the digestive tract including:
- Abdominal trauma: Damage of the organs or blood vessels within the abdomen can result in , even if there is no sign of trauma from the outside. Always seek professional medical care after an accident or injury from blunt force or an explosion to rule out internal damage.
- Abdominal tumor or mass: Ranging from a simple cyst to cancer, an causing pain and other symptoms requires prompt medical attention to diagnose and treat the problem.
- : A condition in which the uterine lining grows abnormally outside the uterus. Symptoms include lower back and abdominal pain during and after your period, cramps, , and heavy bleeding. Medication can help relieve endometriosis symptoms; surgery is necessary in some cases.
- Hernia: A painful is one sign of an . A hernia causing problems in the lower abdomen is usually an . A painful hernia may involve surgical repair.
- : Symptoms vary widely depending on the cause; is usually severe and felt in the side of the abdomen and moves into the lower abdomen and groin. Treatment also depends on the cause.
- Medication side effect: Examples include anti-cancer drugs, , and sodium phosphate.
- Ovarian cyst: Although they dont often cause symptoms, ovarian cysts symptoms include lower abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, pain with bowel movements, and possible changes in menstruation. See a gynecologist for signs of ovarian cysts.
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What Are Stomach Cramps
Stomach cramps is a general term for sharp, recurrent contractions or feelings of pain or discomfort in the belly. These sensations can occur anywhere between the lower chest and the pelvis or groin. They can involve anything in the abdomen, including the stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, esophagus, and blood vessels. Stomach cramps occur in any age group or population. Most people will experience them at some point during their lifetime.
Stomach cramps are a common symptom of numerous different diseases, disorders and conditions. These causes range from mild to serious. They often affect the abdominal organs and sometimes the pelvic organs, such as the uterus and the bladder. Common causes of stomach cramps include indigestion, gastroenteritis, menstrual cramps, bladder infection, and excessive gas.
Stomach cramps may affect a small area of the belly, such as the lower abdomen near the groin or up near the stomach. Stomach cramps may also occur throughout the abdomen.
Depending on the cause, stomach cramps can last for a few minutes or hours. For example, stomach cramps after eating rich food or from vigorous exercise generally do not last a long time. But stomach cramps can also last for a few days, such as when they are due to a menstrual period. Long-term stomach cramping may be continuous or occur periodically and may be due to more serious conditions, such as .
Explained: The Link Between Stress And Stomach Problems
If you are experiencing stomach problems, then you may also be feeling stressed. When we experience high levels of stress, our gut also feels this stress. Stress and anxiety have been linked to chronic health problems such as heart disease, depression, and obesity. There is also a connection between stomach gurgling and bloating, constipation, and stomach pain. Further symptoms of stress induced stomach gurgling include:
- Bad Bacteria Grows, Good Bacteria Dies
- Leaky Gut
- Reduced production of Serotonin
If your stomach gurgling is a symptom of stress, there are many things you can do to change your behavior and response to stress. In general, most of us will often respond to stressful events in a poor way. We will wait and hope that the source of our stress goes away by itself, excessively shop, drink alcohol, treat ourselves to something we want, or gamble. As a result, we then experience more stress and get stuck in a vicious circle.
There are far better ways to handle stress, including:
- Remove the Source of Stress
- List Ways to Solve the Problem
Learn these 3 simple steps to boost digestive health in the morning from BIOHM Health:
How do you manage stomach disturbances? Are you experiencing persistent stomach growling after eating? Lets talk about gut health in the comments below.;Up Next:
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The Pain Came On Pretty Quickly And Youre Vomiting
This could also be a sign of foodborne illness like salmonella, shigella, campylobacter, or E.coli. Its really no surprise that if you eat something off, your body might pull an Exorcist in response.
But these symptoms can also happen due to acute gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu, Priyam V. Tripathi, M.D., M.P.H., a gastroenterologist at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, tells SELF. Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the intestines that can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or parasite, the U.S. National Library of Medicine says, noting that the viral form of gastroenteritis is the second most common illness in the United States. While it can be hard to tell the difference between food poisoning and the stomach flu , one key differentiator is that gastroenteritis usually doesnt cause bloody diarrhea, while food poisoning often does, as SELF previously explained.
The good news is that gastroenteritis usually goes away on its own, Dr. Tripathi says. But, she adds, if youre struggling to keep fluids down , its definitely time to see a doctor.
Can Stomachaches Be Prevented
Not all belly pain can be prevented. But to help avoid common types of stomachaches:
- Wash your hands before eating or preparing food, and after using the bathroom.
- Don’t overeat, and try not to eat right before going to sleep.
- Drink plenty of water and eat fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to keep food moving through your digestive system.
- Avoid foods that have passed their expiration date or or weren’t stored properly.
- If you have a food allergy or intolerance, avoid eating foods that make you sick. If you have a food allergy, always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors, and know when you should use them.
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What Counts As Severe Cramping
Many women hear that stomach cramps before periods are normal, so they try to power through their pain. This common misconception may be keeping you from getting the help you deserve. When asking Is it normal to have cramps 5 days before period?, you need to distinguish between light and severe cramping. Truly bad cramps before period are never normal. Light twinges of pain are common, but intense discomfort is not.;
Signs that you have severe cramping include:
- Your cramps dont improve if you take over-the-counter pain medication.
- You cannot focus, talk normally, or breathe easily during a cramp.
- Youve quit doing certain daily activities due to cramping.
- Your cramps are worse than your usual level of period cramping.
- Your cramps are accompanied by pelvic pain, especially during intercourse.
- You experience vomiting, dizziness, abnormal discharge, or fever alongside your cramps.
If Your Abdominal Cramps Are Making Life Miserable Try To Talk To A Doctor
Treatments for the above issues can vary wildly. For instance, if you think the issue is that you have a hard time processing beans, which then leads to painful gas, over-the-counter medications like simethicone may help with the distension that causes your pain, Dr. Krishnareddy explains.
However, if youre experiencing cramps that are pretty severe, along with other symptoms that make you think you might have a chronic issue like IBS or IBD, its really important to try to consult with a doctorparticularly because taking over-the-counter medications wont treat the real issue at hand.
These medications can decrease the symptoms just enough that the person doesnt go to their doctor to get evaluated, Dr. Krishnareddy says. But its not actually the underlying problem.
Ultimately, if getting abdominal cramps after eating is affecting your life, its time to consult the professionals. If youre having symptoms that are occurring frequently enough to interfere with your ability to conduct your daily activities, you need to see a doctor, Dr. Chey confirms. This is especially true, he says, if youre having serious symptoms like vomiting , seeing blood in your stool , or inexplicably losing weight.
Trust your gut when it tells you somethings wrong. At the very least, your doctor should be able to ask you some questions that get you closer to figuring out whats going on.
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Uterine Fibroids: A Monthly Period Nightmare For Some
As many as three out of four women will;develop uterine fibroids, but most will not experience any symptoms. Fibroids range in size from microscopic to large enough to distort the shape of the uterus.
Uterine fibroids can turn monthly menses into a monthly nightmare by increasing not only the amount of bleeding, but the severity of period pain, says;Lauren Streicher, MD, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the;Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, and the author of Love Sex Again. The reason behind the pain is that the uterus during the period must contract to expel the large blood clots that often result from heavy bleeding,” says Dr. Streicher. Fortunately, fibroids do not put women at increased;risk of uterine cancer;and very rarely become cancerous.
Why Do I Have Stomach Pain And Diarrhea
Abdominal pain and diarrhea can be all-too familiar, and nearly everybody will suffer from this combination at some point during their lifetime. But how do I know if my stomach pain is serious?
Having diarrhea with stomach pain is a common symptom of stomach flu. The good news is, the discomfort and pain usually disappear within a few days. However, there are other reasons you may have stomach cramps or diarrhea, and its important to know when to see a doctor and when to ride the symptoms out.;
Read on to learn about the different possible causes of stomach pain and diarrhea, how to prevent some instances of it, and when to give your physician a call.
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