See Your Doctor As Soon As Possible If:
- your pain is no better after 2 hours of home care
- your abdomen is very painful
- your pain gets worse over time, or becomes sharper or stronger in one particular place
- your abdomen feels bloated or sticks out more than usual
- you cant stop vomiting
- you havent had a bowel motion or passed wind for 3 days
- youve lost your appetite
- there is blood in your vomit, urine or bowel motion, or vaginal bleeding that isnt a period.
You also need to see your doctor if you have other symptoms along with the pain such as fever or dizziness especially if those symptoms get worse over time or new symptoms develop.
Call Healthline if you are unsure what you should do.
Change In Bowel Movement Frequency
There is no magic number of bowel movements we should all be having each day. Some people go three-to-four times a day, and that is normal for them. Others only move their bowels once a day and that is their normal. However, if you or a loved one experiences a significant change in bowel movement frequency, whether more or less often, its important to discuss this change with your healthcare provider.
Medical Conditions Responsible For Stomach Ache
Some types of stomach pain need not be linked to what you eat. They can be caused by conditions that are triggered by when you eat. These include:
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What Is Helicobacter Pylori
Helicobacter pylori are bacteria that specifically infect the gastrointestinal tract. The inflammation and irritation this bacteria causes can lead to conditions such as gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, and even gastric cancer. More than half of the worlds population is colonized by these bacteria. Fortunately, the management and treatment of Helicobacter pylori infections are well-studied.
Most Common Gas Triggers
The main triggers for gas and bloating are fermentable foods, foods that are difficult to digest, and mealtime practices. Diet is the most common trigger for gas and bloating, though, and there are specific food groups that are commonly known culprits.
By a process of elimination, you can determine if any of these groups cause you to be gassy, and then you can eliminate them and enjoy being gas-free.
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Why Does My Stomach Hurt
Tummy troubles are a common cause for a visit to the doctors office. When patients complain of stomach pain, they are sometimes describing pain that is throughout the abdomen area and may not actually be directly related to the organ known as the stomach.
Doctors first try to determine if a patients abdominal pain is caused by a structural or functional problem.
Sometimes the digestive tract does not function properly due to an abnormality with the structure of an organ. Medical imaging will show that the organ does not look normal and is not working properly.
The gastrointestinal system has its own nervous system to control the muscle contractions that digest the food you eat. Functional problems, also called motility disorders, result from poor nerve and muscle function in the digestive tract. Gastrointestinal organs with motility problems will usually look normal on medical imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRI scans, but the organs do not work like they should. Because functional disorders are hard to see in imaging, they can be challenging to diagnose.
Chronic Constipation Or Constipation Alternating With Diarrhea
It is normal to occasionally feel constipatedhaving difficulty moving bowels or infrequent bowel movements. There are a variety of reasons why someone may experience occasional constipation. But if you or a loved one is frequently experiencing constipation, or constipation alternating with diarrhea, it is important to see a healthcare provider or gastroenterologist. Your healthcare provider will be able to run tests to determine the cause of the constipation and recommend for the best course of treatment for you or your loved one.
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Causes Of Hurting Stomach
The following conditions may account for a hurting stomach. However, there are other conditions that also need to be considered which may result in pain arising from neighboring organs and structures around the stomach. In addition, there may be a host of other causes of a hurting stomach if the term stomach is used to refer to the entire abdomen and not specifically the stomach itself.
Read more on causes of abdominal pain.
Two: Manage Your Fodmaps
FODMAPs are specific groups of carbohydrates found in a wide range of plant foods. These are considered healthy, however, if symptoms such as bloating or other symptoms of IBS are present, reducing the amount of FODMAPs consumed may help to improve overall symptoms. However, it does not address the underlying issue, instead it simply avoids potential triggers.
As mentioned, bread made from wheat contains fructans which is a FODMAPs that causes bloating in many people. Instead of following a full low FODMAP diet, some find it helpful to lower their overall FODMAP intake to reduce the overall load placed on the gut, while addressing the underlying issue.
The most common FODMAPs that can be an issue for people are
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Get Relief From Bloating
The most obvious way to reduce bloating is to avoid any foods that are your gassy triggers. Some foods that are high in certain carbs such as garlic, onions and other vegetables arent easy for the body to absorb and can bring on bloating. A low FODMAP diet is often recommended for anyone with irritable bowel syndrome because those foods dont cause as much gas. Foods in a low FODMAP diet include:
- Fruits such as bananas, cantaloupe, oranges and grapes
- Grains such as quinoa and rice
- Lactose-free dairy products
When you eat, consume smaller meals and allow your body time to digest. Drink plenty of water to help your digestive system run smoothly. If high fiber foods make you bloated or constipated, staying hydrated can help soften bowel movements, making them easier to pass.
Activity also can calm that bloated feeling. Although exercise may not sound appealing when you feel bloated, mild physical activity can stimulate the digestive system. Gentle yoga movements that relax the abdomen can help relieve belly swelling, too.
To combat occasional gassiness, try over-the-counter antacids.
If these DIY remedies dont help, talk with your doctor. Although rare, chronic pain and lethargy could be symptoms of inflammation or other conditions.
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How Do I Find A Healthcare Provider
If you experience any of the symptoms outlined above, please consult with your healthcare provider. If you need a gastroenterologist who specializes in IBD, we are here to helpour Find a Medical Expert tool is a great place to start. There are many factors that go into finding the right gastroenterologist. You may want to consider the following questions and preferences when selecting your gastroenterologist:
- Is the healthcare provider board certified?
- What are their specialties?
- Some physicians have an expertise in liver diseases, IBS, or IBD. You can find a healthcare providers specialty by visiting their website or asking the office staff when calling.
- Do they work with other gastroenterologists or GI surgeons who they can consult with?
- Visit our Find a Medical Expert directory
The Foundation offers a listing of healthcare professionals including adult and pediatric gastroenterologists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nutritionists, and mental health clinicians on our Find a Medical Expert Directory. Each professional listed has expressed an interest in IBD by becoming a member of the Crohns & Colitis Foundation. If you need additional assistance finding a gastroenterologist, please contact the IBD Help Center they will provide additional guidance and suggestions for locating a healthcare provider.
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What Is Stomach Churning
Stomach churning and gurgling can be an uncomfortable feeling in the abdomen. Although a queasy stomach is usually only temporary if you have an upset stomach for a week or longer it could be a sign of an underlying condition.
If you have ever experienced stomach growling, especially stomach gurgling after eating, then you may well know the other symptoms that run alongside it. Other symptoms of a sour stomach can include nausea and digestive issues.
Moreover, continue reading to find out what causes upset stomach and gas. We also explain when you should see a doctor, and further signs to look out for.
Stomach Noises such as stomach churning and gurgling and Pain: Causes and Symptoms for Those Belly Noises and Cramps
Colon Damage From Impaired Blood Flow
Acute intestinal ischemia means that the blood flow to the large and/or small intestines has been cut off. It is also called acute mesenteric ischemia, or AMI.
The ischemia is caused by blockage in one of the arteries leading into the abdomen, usually due to atherosclerosis or a blood clot.
Most susceptible are those with very high or low blood pressure heart disease or using illegal drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine.
Symptoms include sudden, severe pain in one area of the abdomen nausea and vomiting and repeated, urgent bowel movements, often with blood.
Acute intestinal ischemia is a life-threatening medical emergency. If it is suspected, take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.
Diagnosis is made through arteriogram, which involves injecting dye into the abdominal arteries under x-ray in order to find the exact location of the blockage.
Treatment involves clot-busting drugs to destroy a clot, or emergency surgery to remove whatever is causing the blockage and possibly some of the damaged intestine as well.
Top Symptoms: abdominal pain , nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, being severely ill
Urgency: Hospital emergency room
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Common Causes Of Stomach Pain
Harmless abdominal pain usually subsides or goes away within two hours.
- Gas: Formed in the stomach and intestines as your body breaks down food, this can cause general stomach pain and cramps. This often can be indicated by belching or flatulence.
- Bloating: Related to gas, this occurs when excessive gas builds up in your digestive tract. Your stomach will usually feel full, and you may experience cramps.
- Constipation: This occurs when you are having difficulty making bowel movements. If you are having two or fewer bowel movements a week, constipation is the likely cause. In addition to feeling bloated and nauseous, you may experience cramping and pain in your rectum.
- Indigestion: You typically experience this as an upset stomach, burning, or belly pain after eating.
- Stomach flu: Your stomach may hurt before each episode of vomiting or diarrhea.
How Is Abdominal Pain Treated
Treating abdominal pain depends on its cause. Options include:
- Medications for inflammation, gastroesophageal reflux disease or ulcers.
- Antibiotics for infection.
- Changes in personal behavior for abdominal pain caused by certain foods or beverages.
- Local or spinal injections of numbing agents or corticosteroids by pain management physicians.
In more severe cases like appendicitis and hernia, surgery is necessary.
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What Are Abdominal Muscle Spasms
In more serious cases, uncontrolled and sometimes painful muscle movements, or spasms in the stomach are known by the NHS as dystonia.
Dystonia symptoms include10:
- Uncontrollable muscle cramps and spasms
- Parts of your body twisting into unusual positions such as your neck twisting or your feet turning inwards
- Shaking or tremors
- Uncontrolled blinking
Dystonia is not common, however, in rare cases it can lifelong condition that affects people in different ways. You can get help and advice about dystonia from your GP or the UKs Dystonia Society.
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Other Causes: Stress Anxiety And Medication:
- Stress and Anxiety: Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a frustrating condition that causes abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. It currently has no known specific cause, but it is believed that there is a link between IBS, stress sensitivity, and the regulation of the stress response. Research shows that 50 to 90 percent of people with IBS also suffer from a psychiatric disorder like anxiety or depression.
- Medication: There are a variety of medications that can cause stomach pain after eating or digestive problems. NSAIDs, nitrates, calcium channel blockers, oral antibiotics, and birth control pills can cause GERD and reflux or irritate the lining of the stomach. Long-term use may cause gastritis, ulcers, bleeding, or perforation of the stomach.
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
- Have you had a recent injury?
- Are you pregnant?
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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.
Gut Feeling: How To Know If Stomach Pain Is Serious
Abdominal pain is the single leading reason for emergency room visits in the U.S. according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, accounting for more than 12 million of the nearly 139 million annual ER visits. Most people call it stomach pain, but its not always a stomach problem. Your abdomen holds many other organs, too, including your intestines , pancreas, liver, gallbladder, kidneys, spleen and appendix.
So its not surprising that, just as with chest pain or a headache, it can be difficult to tell whats really going on in there when your tummys not feeling well. Add in other vague symptoms such as nausea and vomiting and you could have the stomach flu, food poisoning, gallstones, kidney stones or any number of other conditions.
Here are some ways to tell what the source of your pain is and when you should seek medical care.
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When To Go To The Healthcare Provider
Pain in the body means that something is wrong. If you experience pain after eating only every once in a while and it is not debilitating, you may want to mention it to your healthcare provider the next time that you see them.
But if you are experiencing pain after eating on a fairly frequent basis, it is essential that you make an appointment right away with your healthcare provider to ensure that you get an accurate diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan.
If the pain is severe, debilitating, and accompanied by jaundice, fever, rapid heart rate, chills, or severe vomiting, you should seek emergency care.