Pain in lower abdominals

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Abdominal Pain

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Pain in the stomach is a normal occurrence, an uncomfortable experience that almost everyone goes through from time-to-time. But for some people this pain can become so disruptive, due to its frequency and/or severity, that it can seriously lower their quality of life. For those unfortunate enough to go through this, finding out the cause and receiving treatment for their pain is a necessity.

Types of abdominal pain

There are two different types of pain:

  • acute
  • chronic

Acute pain is characteristically sudden and severe, and an attack often drives patients immediately to seek emergency aid where many may require urgent surgical treatment.

Chronic pain can be described as being less severe, longer lasting and perhaps intermittent.

It is important to note, however, that less severe pain does not necessarily equate to a less serious disease or condition.

Causes of acute abdominal pain

Some causes of acute abdominal pain may include:

  • acute pancreatitis – a sudden severe inflammation of the pancreas
  • appendicitis – an inflammation of the appendix
  • cholecystitis – an inflammation of the gall bladder
  • gallstones and bile duct stones – stones which can clog the biliary tree, causing inflammation and serious conditions such as pancreatitis
  • perforated gastric or duodenal ulcer – an ulcer that creates an opening in the intestinal wall
  • ruptured aortic aneurysm – a weak area in the wall of the vessel that supplies blood to the abdominal organs
  • sudden loss of blood supply
  • sudden obstruction to the small intestine or colon

Women may also present acutely with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy or ovarian cysts.

Causes of chronic abdominal pain

Other abdominal conditions can cause pains that are usually less severe, and may come and go. They can include:

  • chronic pancreatitis – frequent inflammation of the pancreas and biliary tree
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • diverticulitis – small sacs most often found in the lining of the colon
  • gastritis – an inflammation of the lining of the stomach
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – a condition where stomach acids come up from the stomach into the esophagus
  • inflammatory bowel disease – a group of conditions marked by inflammation of the colon and small intestine

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Pain is an important symptom of abdominal disease. Its position and characteristics give important clues to the likely causes. The types of pains previously described tend to have characteristic positions which can help point to their origin.By far the most common cause of abdominal pain in the general population is irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.

Location of abdominal pain

In general, pains that are located further from the center of the abdomen often indicate a more serious problem than those near the center … but not always. And chronic abdominal pains that are fixed in position —usually continuous and progressive— also often signify a more serious, underlying disease. Chronic pains that move around and last for only a few minutes, however bothersome, are less likely to be as serious.

Tests for abdominal pain

A physician may decide to perform one or more tests on a patient to help determine the cause of his/her pain. These tests may include:

  • urinary tests – determines whether the patient may have diabetes, kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and other related conditions
  • x-rays – can determine if there is a blockage
  • endoscopy – can reveal a number of causes for pain
  • ultrasound – can detect the presence of kidney stones and gallstones
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan

Treatment for abdominal pain depends on finding the cause. Some questions patients needs to ask themselves before talking to their doctor are:

  • Is the pain in the right, left, or center of the abdomen?
  • Is the pain in the top, bottom, or middle of the abdomen?
  • Is the pain sudden, and severe (acute)?
  • Is the pain less severe, yet occurs more frequently (chronic)?
  • Does the pain remain in one place, or does it move around?
  • Does the pain occur mainly after eating?
  • Are you pregnant?

Treatment of abdominal pain

Physicians will decide on a course of action based on what tests reveal. Some options include:

  • antacids
  • proton pump inhibitors
  • antibiotics
  • surgical procedures

Seek immediate medical care for abdominal pain if the person:

  • has bloody bowel movements
  • throws up vomit that appears to have blood in it
  • has trouble breathing
  • experiences abdominal pain during pregnancy

It is important to remember that if pain persists over an extended period, despite how insignificant it may feel, go see your physician. That dull pain may be an early warning signal of something more serious.

Point tenderness – abdomen

Your provider will examine you and gently push on places on your belly. People with peritonitis will often tense the abdominal muscles when the area is touched. This is called guarding.

The provider will note any point of tenderness. The location of the tenderness can indicate the problem that is causing it. For example, if you have appendicitis, you will have tenderness when a certain place is touched. This spot is called McBurney point.

The provider will also ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. These may include:

  • When did the symptoms start?
  • Is this the first time you have had such discomfort?
  • If not, when does the discomfort tend to occur?
  • Are you having other symptoms, such as constipation, diarrhea, fainting, vomiting, or fever?

You may need to have the following tests:

  • Abdominal x-ray
  • Abdominal CT scan (occasionally)
  • Blood work, such as a complete blood count

In some cases, you may need surgery right away. This may involve an exploratory laparotomy or an emergency appendectomy.

Call 911 if:

Call 911 if:

  • The pain is in your lower right abdomen and tender to the touch, and you also have fever or are vomiting. These may be signs of appendicitis.
  • You’re vomiting blood.
  • You have a hard time breathing.
  • You’re pregnant and have belly pain or vaginal bleeding.

1. Over-the-Counter Medications

  • For gas pain, medicine that has the ingredient simethicone (Mylanta, Gas-X) can help get rid of it.
  • For heartburn from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), try an antacid or acid reducer (Pepcid AC, Zantac 75).
  • For constipation, a mild stool softener or laxative may help get things moving again.
  • For cramping from diarrhea, medicines that have loperamide (Imodium) or bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismol) might make you feel better.
  • For other types of pain, acetaminophen (Aspirin Free Anacin, Liquiprin, Panadol, Tylenol) might be helpful. But stay away from non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Midol, Motrin), or naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan). They can irritate your stomach.

2. Home Remedies

You might try a heating pad to ease belly pain. Chamomile or peppermint tea may help with gas. Be sure to drink plenty of clear fluids so your body has enough water.

You also can do things to make stomach pain less likely. It can help to:

  • Eat several smaller meals instead of three big ones
  • Chew your food slowly and well
  • Stay away from foods that bother you (spicy or fried foods, for example)
  • Ease stress with exercise, meditation, or yoga

3. When to See a Doctor

It’s time to get medical help if:

  • You have severe belly pain or the pain lasts several days
  • You have nausea and fever and can’t keep food down for several days
  • You have bloody stools
  • It hurts to pee
  • You have blood in your urine
  • You cannot pass stools, especially if you’re also vomiting
  • You had an injury to your belly in the days before the pain started
  • You have heartburn that doesn’t get better with over-the-counter drugs or lasts longer than 2 weeks

Stuffing? Check. Stiff drinks? Check. Stress? Check. ‘Tis the season — for stomachaches. “The holidays create a perfect storm for stomach problems because of all the eating, traveling, and partying,” says Roger D. Mitty, M.D., chief of gastroenterology at Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston. And women are especially vulnerable, since some gastrointestinal ills occur up to six times more often in women than in men. What’s more, a recent survey found that during the holidays, nearly half of all women experience heightened stress, which can dramatically contribute to new tummy aches or make existing issues worse. Read on to find sweet relief for the most common holiday-time stomach woes.

The Trigger: You overdo it at holiday meals.

TUMMY TROUBLE: Heartburn (also known as indigestion or acid reflux).

Getting more than your fill — especially of hard-to-digest, rich, fatty foods such as gravy, sausage stuffing, and pie with whipped cream — is a classic cause of indigestion, which typically feels like a searing pain in your upper abdomen and is often accompanied by nausea, bloating, belching, and a sour taste in the mouth. The burn is caused by a backwash of stomach acid into the esophagus and may be triggered by lying down within three hours after a meal, since gravity acts as an important barrier to reversed acid flow. Eating one of the season’s traditional sweets, peppermint (whether in hard candy, chocolate, or cake), can also cause heartburn, because it numbs and relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that keeps food down in your stomach where it belongs.

If heartburn hits, ease your symptoms by taking an antacid such as Pepto-Bismol, Maalox, Tums, or Rolaids. Better yet, if you know from past experience that you’re likely to suffer after a big meal, take a stomach-acid blocker, such as Pepcid Complete or Tagamet HB200, a half hour before eating. These medicines work for eight hours or longer and can prevent indigestion altogether. And try to keep your body upright for a few hours after a feast, even while you’re sitting on the couch, instead of curling up for a nap.

The Trigger: You’re constantly on the go.

TUMMY TROUBLE: Bloating, gas, and constipation.

You may be on the move, but your bowels aren’t! When you’re traveling, you may not get up to your usual activity levels or get properly hydrated — key habits for keeping waste moving smoothly through the gastrointestinal tract. You tend to eat out more too, which may mean a doughnut for breakfast instead of your usual fiber-rich cereal, and fewer fresh fruits and vegetables — foods that act like sponges in the intestines, absorbing liquids and leading to soft, easy-to-pass stools.

“Some women get so busy at this time of year they actually forget to make time to go to the toilet,” says gastroenterologist Cynthia M. Yoshida, M.D., author of No More Digestive Problems. Or you suppress the urge to go because you lack the privacy you need. (Can’t relax with guests banging on the bathroom door? No kidding — who can?) And when you hold back, stool can become dry and difficult to pass.

For relief, try an over-the-counter (OTC) laxative such as Miralax or Colace, which slowly draws moisture into the bowel. It can take one to three days to work. But you shouldn’t use them for more than two weeks at a time, because they can become habit-forming, says Yoshida. If you want faster relief, go for a stimulant laxative such as Ex-Lax or Correctol, which makes the colon contract. The downside is it can trigger side effects such as cramping and a “can’t wait” urge to hit the bathroom — although you’ll feel better once you have a bowel movement.

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The Trigger: You eat at school and/or church gatherings.

TUMMY TROUBLE: Food poisoning or the stomach flu.

It’s easy to pick up a harmful food-borne bug at a holiday potluck, says Mitty: “The more cooks in the kitchen, the greater the chance someone will be hazy about safe food-handling rules.” In addition, prepared dishes are often left out for more than two hours at room temperature, giving bacteria and viruses plenty of time to multiply.

If you experience abdominal cramping, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or fever within six hours of eating at a potluck dinner, you’ve probably met a food-borne bacteria, such as E. coli. If you fall victim to these exact same symptoms but do so later — say, one to three days after the event — you’ve got a virus, which you can catch directly from food but also by having other contact with an infected person. This is why it’s important to hand wash. Sadly, the stuff on food that makes you sick can’t be seen, but it’s still safer to skip the chicken if it appears undercooked. If you do get sick, the biggest risk is dehydration, which you can alleviate by sucking on ice chips or drinking water, clear broths, or non-caffeinated sports drinks like Gatorade. OTC antidiarrheal medicine such as Imodium or Pepto-Bismol may ease symptoms, but some physicians believe that loose, frequent stools are the body’s way of pushing out invading bugs — and that these meds may slow the process, actually prolonging the problem.

Most food-related bugs last anywhere from a few hours to several days and don’t need to be treated with antibiotics. Contact your doctor if you’ve got severe stomach cramps and/or your diarrhea and vomiting don’t subside after three days.

The Trigger: You pop more pain relievers than usual.

TUMMY TROUBLE: Irritation and/or ulcers.

Even in the calmest of times, many women overuse non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen sodium to treat various body aches, migraines, and menstrual cramps, says Joanne A.P. Wilson, M.D., a professor of medicine-gastroenterology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. But during the holiday season, you may find yourself uncapping that bottle even more often — to soothe muscles strained by carrying heavy packages (or heavy toddlers) through the mall, say, or to dampen a headache caused by a flight delay. Regularly popping these pain relievers can disarm the stomach’s protective defenses against digestive acids, leading the stomach lining to become inflamed or to develop ulcers (open sores). As a result, you may feel a wicked, burning pain that comes and goes almost daily or experience a chronic, gnawing, dull ache in the upper area of your stomach.

Put the brakes on irritation from NSAID use by switching to a form of acetaminophen, like Tylenol, which is gentler on your stomach lining. And to help the healing, try taking OTC medications that reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces, such as Zantac or Prilosec.

If you don’t feel better in two weeks, make an appointment to see your doctor, who may check you for H. pylori — a bacteria that can cause ulcers and can be cleared up with antibiotics and acid-suppressive medications.

The Trigger: You go overboard at the bar.

TUMMY TROUBLE: Severe pain that moves to your back with a fever and vomiting can mean acute pancreatitis.

Knock back too many cocktails at a big holiday bash and the result is usually a nasty hangover. But sometimes the consequence is a life-threatening condition that strikes an estimated 210,000 Americans each year: acute pancreatitis. This occurs when the pancreas, a large gland that secretes digestive enzymes, becomes inflamed, often due to an excess of alcohol. Acute pancreatitis can happen after just one night of binge drinking, or from repeatedly drinking too much alcohol. You’ll know it if you have more than a hangover: An attack usually begins with a pain in your upper abdomen. It then worsens daily and begins to wrap around to your back; your belly may become very swollen and tender, and you’ll have fever, vomiting, nausea, and an increased pulse rate. Get to a doctor right away, and expect a hospital stay; treatment usually requires you to receive antibiotics intravenously.

Women are 50 percent more likely than men to suffer an attack of acute pancreatitis because “we don’t tolerate drinking as well as men do,” says Silvia Degli-Esposti, M.D., director of Women & Infants’ Center for Women’s Gastrointestinal Disorders in Providence, RI. “Anything above two drinks a night is more than a woman’s body can properly metabolize.” So toast the holidays with a cup (or two) of good cheer — then stop and switch to sparkling water.

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The Trigger: You can’t resist hot cocoa or eggnog.

TUMMY TROUBLE: Nausea, gas, bloating, and/or cramping — signs of a lactose intolerance.

If these symptoms hit two to three hours after consuming a milky drink, you may be lactose intolerant — meaning you’re one of the more than 30 million Americans who are unable to digest lactose, the main sugar in dairy products. Even if you’ve never had a reaction to dairy before, you may have nausea, gas, and bloating now, especially if you consume more than usual, says Yuri A. Saito, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. It’s not uncommon for lactose intolerance to crop up in adulthood if you’re genetically susceptible to it because your body produces less of the enzyme needed to digest dairy as you age.

Every woman who is lactose intolerant has a different dairy threshold — some can tolerate only tiny amounts, while others can knock back one grande latte with no problem. The trick to a settled stomach is to find your personal “tipping point” and then stay under it. To head off problems (or if you can’t resist that once-a-year nog), you can buy lactase enzyme tablets or drops (Lactaid, DairyEase), which help with digestion if taken with the first sip of milk. Lactose-reduced milk is another option; it’s a little pricier than standard cartons, but it tastes the same and has all the nutrients of regular milk.

The Trigger: You get frazzled and frenzied.

TUMMY TROUBLE: Painful colon spasms and cramps.

For the 25 percent of women in the United States who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), stress is a top trigger for the disorder. (Other common culprits include certain foods, medications, or even having your period.) IBS is a condition that leads to chronic, crampy, painful lower abdominal pain accompanied by constipation or diarrhea or both. If these symptoms sound familiar, you might suffer from IBS and not even realize it — more than 76 percent of people with the disorder go undiagnosed, according to a recent study.

There’s no single cure for IBS, which may be caused by a glitch in how the nerves of the intestine send messages to the brain (experts aren’t really sure). Different foods aggravate symptoms in different people, so keeping a meal diary for a few weeks to find your trigger foods is essential. Your doctor can prescribe an antispasmodic, such as Bentyl, to control colon muscle spasms and reduce abdominal pain; low-dose antidepressants can help block pain signals to nerve cells; and there are also medications such as alosetron hydrochloride (Lotronex) specifically for women whose primary IBS symptom is diarrhea, and lubiprostone (Amitiza) for women who suffer mostly constipation.

Learning to better cope with your stress can also reduce your IBS symptoms — it did so for up to 72 percent of women with the condition in a recent study from the State University of New York at Buffalo. So consider counseling, yoga classes, meditation, or long walks or hikes, but don’t fail to take this immediate tension-taming step this season: Cut down on holiday commitments by simplifying the menu for your Thanksgiving dinner, scaling back on social engagements and parties, or declaring a “one gift per family, please” rule with your friends and extended family members. Your tetchy tummy will thank you.

The Trigger: You’re eating something new.

TUMMY TROUBLE: Cramping stomach pain and diarrhea.

People typically think of food allergies as resulting in obvious symptoms, like hives or a constricted airway. But in minor cases, they can actually just cause cramping and diarrhea. Even if you’ve never experienced a food allergy before, keep in mind that they can pop up in adulthood, too — in fact, more than 50 million adults have some type of allergy. It’s something you might not think twice about when you’re at home, since you probably stick to a routine. But when you’re trying a bunch of new dishes at holiday gatherings, it’s hard to tell where an allergy is even coming from.

Luckily, there is a way to break it down and figure out what’s causing the issue. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 90 percent of all reactions come from eight types of food: eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. If you start having stomach pain after eating a certain dish, ask the chef — or, you know, your great aunt — for the recipe so you can find out what to avoid in the future.

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5 Ways to Quit Your Bellyachin’

1. Snack first. Arrive at holiday parties only a little hungry and you’ll be less likely to suffer indigestion from eating too much, too fast.

2. Don’t share. Food poisoning can be contagious, so use only your own glass, utensils, and plate — and avoid sampling forkfuls of other people’s food.

3. Move it. Daily exercise, even a short brisk walk, stimulates your bowels to process waste efficiently, preventing constipation.

4. Order the bubbly — but make it seltzer, club soda, or sparkling mineral water. Otherwise, stick to plain old H2O. Keeping your alcohol intake low will lessen your chances of suffering a stomach-churning hangover or a more serious consequence like an inflamed pancreas. Staying hydrated prevents constipation too.

5. Breathe. Is the season’s shopping, cooking, or kid-chauffeuring making you nuts? Close your eyes, inhale and exhale, and take a moment to regroup. Defusing the stress will help keep IBS under control and reduce your need for headache helpers like ibuprofen, which can irritate your stomach lining.

What is Abdominal Pain?

Exercise, eat a healthy diet, and avoid smoking and consuming excess alcohol to reduce the chances that you will experience certain causes of stomach pain. Good hygiene, especially handwashing and avoiding materials and foods contaminated with viruses and bacteria, will reduce your chances of developing illness from many infectious causes.

Causes

There are as many causes of abdominal pain as there are degrees of discomfort, and the location of the pain often indicates its cause. For example, sharp pain in the stomach, lower abdominal pain, pain on the left or right side, intestinal pain, or stomach cramps can all suggest clues to underlying conditions, as can their timing and severity.

Abdominal pain can be caused by inflammation (for example, appendicitis, diverticulitis, colitis), organ distention or stretching (for example, obstruction of the intestine, blockage of a bile duct by gallstones, swelling of the liver with hepatitis), or by loss of the blood supply (for example, ischemic colitis).

Some prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements cause stomach pain. Medications can irritate the stomach, causing pain and diarrhea, or slow down digestion, causing constipation. Be sure to check the label to see if the medication you are taking has abdominal pain as a side effect.

Some causes of abdominal pain include:

  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Stomach virus
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Food poisoning
  • Food allergies
  • Gas
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Ulcers
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Hernia
  • Gallstones
  • Kidney stones
  • Endometriosis
  • Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Appendicitis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Cancer (pancreatic, stomach, or liver)

Symptoms

Symptoms that commonly occur with abdominal pain include back pain, chest pain, constipation, diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting, cough, and difficulty breathing. Characteristics of the pain (for example, sharp, cramping, radiating), the location of the pain within the abdominal area, and its relation to eating, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea are all factors associated with symptoms.

Symptoms associated with abdominal pain include:

  • Fever
  • Inability to keep food down for more than two days
  • Any signs of dehydration
  • Inability to pass stool, especially if you are also vomiting
  • Painful or unusually frequent urination
  • The abdomen is tender to the touch
  • The pain is the result of an injury to the abdomen
  • The pain lasts for more than a few hours
  • Bloating
  • Belching
  • Gas (flatus, farting)
  • Indigestion
  • Discomfort in the upper left or right; middle; or lower left or right abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Heartburn
  • Chest discomfort
  • Pelvic discomfort
  • Loss of appetite

More serious symptoms include:

  • Severe pain
  • Bloody stools
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Skin that appears yellow
  • Severe tenderness when you touch your abdomen
  • Swelling of the abdomen

Diagnosis

The cause of abdominal pain is diagnosed on the basis of its characteristics, a physical examination, and testing. Your physician is likely to ask you a series of questions about the characteristics of the pain, the patterns and persistence of pain, and whether you have any underlying physical or mental conditions that could be contributing to your abdominal pain.

Diagnosis for abdominal pain may involve:

  • Physical examination
  • Laboratory tests — complete blood count (CBC), liver enzymes, pancreatic enzymes (amylase and lipase), pregnancy, and urinalysis tests
  • Plain X-rays of the abdomen
  • Radiographic studies
  • Ultrasound
  • Computerized tomography (CT) of the abdomen (this includes all organs and the intestines)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Barium X-rays
  • Capsule endoscopy
  • Endoscopic procedures, including esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD
  • Colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)

Treatments

The treatment for abdominal pain depends on its cause. Treatments can range from medications for inflammation, GERD, or ulcers, to antibiotics for infections, to changes in personal behavior for abdominal pain caused by certain foods or beverages. In some cases, such as appendicitis and hernia, diagnostic tests, such as analyses of blood, urine, and stool samples, CT scans, and endoscopy, may be required to rule out or confirm a specific diagnosis, and surgery may be needed.

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Prescription medications for inflammation, GERD, ulcers, or general pain
  • Antibiotics
  • Low-dose antidepressants
  • Changes in behavior, including elimination of certain foods or beverages that may be contributing to abdominal pain
  • Surgery to remove intestinal blockages, hernia, or infected organs.

When Abdominal Pain or Discomfort Strikes

You probably don’t think about the internal workings of your belly much — unless they’re red-flagging you with sharp pain, aches, or cramping. Even then, you may dismiss the discomfort or pain as just transient gas — or some other minor intestinal disturbance — and simply wait for it to go away.

But you don’t have to live with the pain. Whether your abdominal pain or discomfort is a sharp, short-term annoyance or a chronic hurt that dogs you regularly, you have options for making it go away. The first step is figuring out what’s causing the pain so that you can treat the source.

What’s Going On in There?
Sometimes it’s difficult to determine the root cause of a bellyache. The source of the pain could be any one of a number of structures and organs within your abdomen, including your appendix, kidneys, liver, reproductive organs, and aorta;, or it could be caused by any of the organs involved in digestion, such as your stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, or intestines. You also have a myriad of muscles, tendons, and other connective tissue located in this region of the body. Abdominal pain could even be caused by problems completely unrelated to the abdomen, such as a heart attack or pneumonia.

So if you have abdominal pain, and it’s chronic, moderate to severe, or in any way worrisome to you, it’s best to get a doctor’s opinion on what might be amiss. Otherwise, it’s just a guessing game.

Your doctor will ask you questions about your pain — questions that, combined with your medical history and physical exam, are designed to help pinpoint the possible causes of your symptoms.

Tell Your Doctor…

  • When the pain began
  • Where the pain is located
  • What kind of pain it is (sharp, dull, throbbing, etc.)
  • How severe the pain is
  • Whether the pain is in a specific location or all over
  • How frequently you feel the pain
  • What makes it worse
  • What makes it better
  • How the pain is affecting your life

Is It Serious?
Abdominal pain can vary greatly, from minor to excruciating. But here’s the kicker: Sometimes excruciating pain can result from something pretty harmless. For example, most people know what it’s like to be doubled over with gas pain. Yet some serious problems, such as celiac disease or colon cancer, may not cause you too much discomfort in the early stages.

So don’t judge your problems solely by the severity of your pain. Severe, incapacitating pain is always a reason to see your doctor right away. But for mild to moderate pain, consider the following red flags as well, and call your doctor if you experience them:

  • Abdominal discomfort that lasts a week or longer
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Bloating that lasts longer than 2 days (not associated with PMS)
  • Diarrhea for more than 3 days
  • Fever with your pain
  • Pain that develops during pregnancy (or possible pregnancy)
  • Prolonged poor appetite
  • Tenderness of the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Black, tarry stool
  • Thin, ribbon-like stool

Signs that you need to see a doctor immediately include a rigid abdomen; a high fever with your pain (over 101°F); bloody diarrhea; vomiting or an inability to keep food down; an inability to pass stool, gas, or urine; or pain that is incapacitating, lasts several hours, is accompanied by vomiting, or might be symptomatic of a medical emergency, such as a heart attack.

Learn about some unusual heart attack symptoms here.

Smart Self-Care
For mild cases of abdominal pain or discomfort, or for a little relief from the pain until you see your doctor, here are six self-help steps you can try. They may help relieve some, but not all, instances of gastrointestinal pain.

  • Drink plenty of water, but take infrequent, small sips.
  • Avoid foods that are known to exacerbate some causes of abdominal pain, such as gas, diarrhea, constipation, or heartburn. This includes greasy foods, spicy foods, citrus, tomato products, dairy products, and chocolate.
  • Cut back on foods and beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine.
  • Avoid medications known to irritate the stomach lining, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If your prescription medications cause stomach upset, speak to your doctor before discontinuing them.
  • For pain related to stomach acid, try over-the-counter antacids. Gas pain may be relieved with antacids that contain simethicone and activated charcoal.
  • After pain subsides, eat a bland diet for a day or so.

Some digestive problems are minor and can be remedied with self-care. Others may require prescription treatments or — although rare — may constitute a potential medical emergency. The first step: Speak with your healthcare provider so you can get an accurate diagnosis. If you have regular abdominal troubles, make an appointment today.

Medically reviewed in August 2019. Updated in August 2019.

Stomach pain is something that almost everyone feels at one time or another. People with stomach pain (also called abdominal pain) most often have muscle strain, gas pain or an upset stomach. (1) Stomach pain is a general term that covers many conditions. Here we cover many of the most common reasons you may have stomach pain, as well as a few conventional and natural strategies for dealing with it.

What Is Stomach Pain?

Stomach pain may come from a problem in the stomach or body parts related to digestion. Sometimes stomach pain after eating occurs, related to certain foods or ingesting alcohol or drugs. (2)

Stomach pain may actually come from nearby organs, such as the gallbladder, the appendix, your bowels or the pancreas. (3)

Because stomach pain is so common, it’s important to note your symptoms and also the timing of the pain. A stomach ache may disappear in a few hours, come and go or get worse over time. If pain is severe or getting worse quickly, see your doctor.

Signs and Symptoms

Your pain may be related to one or more conditions. Here are some of the most common stomach pain symptoms: (4, 5, 6)

  • Muscle strain, which you may feel as pain while sprinting or twisting the upper body or while laughing, coughing or sneezing
  • Full or bloated stomach, which may be gas pain
  • Indigestion, which may include a feeling such as heartburn or an acidic stomach and is also called an upset stomach

Other common symptoms related to stomach pain include:

  • Nausea (feeling like you are going to vomit)
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Burping
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Less common symptoms include:

  • Severe stomach pain, which may be sudden and sharp
  • Pain after every meal
  • Ongoing vomiting or diarrhea
  • Vomit with blood in it
  • Stool with blood in it
  • Stomach area that is hard and tender to the touch
  • Pain in your chest, neck or shoulder

Causes and Risk Factors

Stomach pain may come from one or several causes. Many causes of stomach pain are simple to treat at home. The location of your abdominal pain can be a clue to what might be wrong.

Sometimes severe stomach pain requires a trip to the doctor or even a trip to the emergency room (ER). In a clinical study of ER visits for stomach pain, doctors often ruled the cause to be “nonspecific abdominal pain,” which means the cause could not be found. Another common cause of emergency visits for stomach pain is a kidney stone that blocks part of the urinary tract (called renal colic). Together, these two conditions accounted for about 60 percent of all ER visits for abdominal pain. (7)

Older people (over age 65 years) had more bile-duct blockage, gallbladder inflammation and diverticulitis — pouches that arise in the colon wall. People younger than 65 years had more appendix attacks than older people.

Some of the most common causes of stomach pain include: (8, 9)

  • Indigestion
  • Food poisoning
  • Food allergy and celiac disease
  • Gas
  • Stomach flu and other infections, like Helicobacter pylori, which is related to stomach ulcers

Less common causes include: (10)

  • Stomach ulcer
  • Stomach inflammation (gastritis) — a gnawing or burning feeling that could become better or worse when eating. The inflammation and symptoms caused by gastritis are often from a bacterial infection that also causes most stomach ulcers over time. Using alcohol or certain pain relievers — such as aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — may cause more pain. Stomach inflammation symptoms like a recurring upset stomach, bloating, pain, hiccups and vomiting blood should not be ignored, because gastritis may lead to increased risk of stomach cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Some medicines may cause stomach pain, including antibiotics, iron supplements, some cholesterol drugs and chemotherapy

Outside of the stomach, abdominal pain is also found in specific areas. Some conditions, such as ovary pain, can be on the left or right side.

Upper stomach pain and lower stomach pain are separate because of the many different organs that could be involved in one area. The organ location also makes a difference, so we break down right-side stomach pain and left-side stomach pain. Common causes of stomach pain in different areas of the abdomen include the lists below.

Upper Stomach Pain:

  • Heartburn or acid reflux
  • Esophagus pain
  • Bile duct pain
  • Gallbladder pain, gallstones and gallbladder attack symptoms
  • Kidney stones
  • Pancreatic pain (left upper side)
  • Heart pain (angina)
  • Liver pain (hepatitis)
  • Hiatal hernia, when the upper part of the stomach pushes through your diaphragm and into your chest

Lower Stomach Pain:

  • Period cramps
  • Egg release from ovary (ovulation)
  • Pain in the uterus lining (endometriosis)
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Pregnancy in a fallopian tube instead of the uterus (ectopic pregnancy)
  • Cramps during pregnancy, which should be checked by your doctor if they are severe
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Pancreatitis (may also feel like more central or lower pain)
  • Diverticulitis (pouches in the colon)
  • Prostate pain

Right-Side Stomach Pain: (11, 12)

  • Appendicitis — go to your doctor with severe pain
  • Inguinal hernia — when a part of your small intestine pushes through a weak spot of your lower abdomen
  • Gallstones — this may be felt as upper right side stomach pain

Left-Side Stomach Pain: (13)

  • Diverticulitis – pain often in left lower side
  • Crohn’s disease – pain can also be in the left and center of the stomach area
  • Pancreatic pain – left, upper-side stomach pain

Risk factors for stomach pain include: (14, 15, 16)

  • Too much coffee or caffeinated drinks
  • Too much alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Out-of-date or contaminated food
  • Eating foods you may be allergic to, such as wheat
  • Eating too much fruit or carbohydrates if you have fructose intolerance, a condition where you cannot digest fructose well (fructose is a sugar often found in fruits, honey and some vegetables)
  • Drinks and foods containing dairy products (if you have lactose intolerance, where you cannot digest the sugar in milk and may feel gassy or bloated)
  • Processed foods, smoked or salted meats or fish, and pickled vegetables
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Tobacco use
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Certain occupations; workers in metal, coal and rubber industry have higher risk of stomach cancer
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease, called GERD
  • Pregnancy
  • Having your period
  • Stress from work or life situations
  • Psychological distress
  • Fatigue
  • High level of anxiety about your health
  • Some medications
  • Some illegal drugs

Conventional Treatment

Many conventional treatments are available if you have stomach pain. The key will be figuring out the source of your pain. Below are some of the conventional treatments for stomach pain by cause or primary symptom:

  • Heartburn or GERD: antacid medication or a drug that reduces acid
  • Constipation: fiber product that dissolves in water or laxatives
  • Diarrhea: hydration and a bland diet (Note: call your doctor if the diarrhea lasts more than a few days or if your stool contains large amounts of blood or pus)
  • Pain: over-the-counter painkillers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen); acetaminophen and aspirin relieve pain but not inflammation
  • Fullness or bloating: medicine with simethicone in it
  • Long-term indigestion: common prescription medication options include: (17)
    • proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), to reduce stomach acid
    • H-2-receptor antagonists (H2RAs), to reduce stomach acid
    • Prokinetics, to help stomach empty more quickly
    • Antibiotics, if H. pylori bacteria are causing your indigestion
    • Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, to decrease your pain
  • Vomiting: anti-vomiting drugs include Pepto-Bismol and over-the-counter antihistamines (H1 blockers), such as Dramamine
  • Severe stomach cramps: antibiotics, aminosalicylates, corticosteroids or antispasmodic medications
  • Period cramps: medications such as Midol, to prevent menstrual cramping

Natural Remedies

The good news about stomach pain and pain in the abdomen is that there are many natural, simple ways to try to relieve such pain. Your doctor may suggest natural treatments before prescribing drugs.

Consider these natural ways to stop or reduce pain and manage your condition:

1. Manage Abdominal Strain

The good news is that you can usually treat abdominal muscle strain by yourself. Consider these tips for preventing and also managing muscle strain if it occurs.

If you have already strained your stomach area, consider these tips to bring back to stronger muscles with less pain: (18)

  • Cold therapy. Use an icepack wrapped in a towel on your injury. Leave it on for 10–15 minutes. Repeat if necessary each hour in the early days of your injury.
  • Heat therapy. Heat placed over an injured area can relax you, relieve tension and bring more blood to the injury. Use a heating bad or warm compress up to 20 minutes. Repeat if necessary each hour in the early days of your injury.
  • Compression. You could wear an abdominal bandage or cloth brace to put some pressure on your abdomen, guide your muscles in place and keep the region less painful as you start to move normally and heal.

To prevent abdominal strain after you have had an injury

  • Think about avoiding positions that can strain your core and back. Bend your knees and hips, and lower yourself with a straight back when lifting heavy items.
  • Strive for good, balanced posture when you stand and also when you sit. Try to remember to check your posture several times a day.
  • Don’t sit too long in one position. Take frequent breaks and move or walk around often.
  • Warm up well before starting your exercise regime or sports routines.
  • Be alert when you start new exercises and use caution. If you are trying new exercises, work your way up to more intense exercise or longer exercising periods.
  • Cool down after your workouts to rest your muscles. Take time between workouts to rest your muscles, especially if you are exerting yourself more than usual.
  • Rest as much as you are able. Your body needs an opportunity to repair its muscles once they are strained.
  • Exercise to strengthen your core area. If you strain your stomach area, don’t exercise until you feel better. Once your symptoms subside, try some curl-ups and pelvic tilts while lying on your back to strengthen the area.

2. Reduce Gas and Bloating

Because bloating and gas in the stomach are common causes of pain, it helps to be aware of ways to keep extra gas from forming in your body. Several tips are diet-related. GERD and acid reflux can also lead to trapped or unwanted gas. Consider these tips to reduce gas and bloating: (19, 20)

  • Eat less at mealtime or smaller meals throughout the day if you have an upset stomach
  • Cut out fried or fatty foods
  • Drink fewer carbonated beverages
  • Avoid too much leafy foods, especially lettuce, cabbage and broccoli
  • Cut down on beans, legumes and fruits with skins, such as apples and pears
  • Reduce your stress when possible
  • Stop smoking
  • Don’t chew gum
  • Stop eating sugar-free foods with synthetic sweeteners, which may not be absorbed or digested well
  • Try to stop swallowing air if that has become a habit

3. Watch What You Put Into Your Body

What you take into your body makes a big difference for your health. To help lower your chances of stomach pain, consider avoiding: (21, 22)

  • Too much coffee or caffeinated drinks
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Spicy foods
  • Foods with natural acids, like tomatoes and oranges
  • Out-of-date or contaminated food (these may cause food poisoning)
  • Foods you may be allergic or sensitive to, such as wheat or nuts
  • Too much fruit or too many carbohydrates if you have fructose intolerance – you cannot digest the fructose well (a sugar often found in honey, fruits and some vegetables)
  • Drinks and foods containing dairy products, if you have lactose intolerance
  • Processed foods and smoked or salted meats or fish, and pickled vegetables (these put some people at higher risk for stomach cancer)
  • Tobacco use or smoking
  • Illegal drug use
    • Cocaine can cause abdominal pain and bowel tissue decay
    • Opioid use can cause abdominal pain, acid reflux and severe constipation

Remember that some medications may cause pain as well. Ask your doctor if your medications might cause stomach pain.

For a healthy digestive system, the best thing to do is eat a balanced diet. (23) The government’s Dietary Guidelines can help guide you. Try a mix of foods that includes vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, protein foods (legumes, fish, meats) and healthy oils. Eat them in your appropriate calorie level each day and in forms that limit saturated fats, added sugars and added salt. (24)

4. Try Herbal Remedies

Some painkillers people take to treat abdominal pain can actually hurt the stomach. Taking large or even long-term regular doses of aspirin can cause stomach bleeding. Use of NSAID drugs for pain also can cause abdominal bleeding. (25) Over time, use of acetaminophen can harm the liver. (26)

Natural remedies for indigestion and stomach pain have existed for a long time. Remember to ask your doctor before trying an herb or supplement. Herbal products may interact with your medications or be the wrong choice for you. Also, do not stop taking your prescribed medications or change how you take them without talking to your doctor first.

One study from Iran that looked at many other studies found 105 plants that could treat various upset stomach symptoms. Seven clinical studies found that an upset stomach (functional dyspepsia) could be treated effectively, for example, with: (27)

  • Licorice root can reduce pain and enhance stomach mucus secretion and anti-ulcer activity (activity against the bacteria that cause ulcers, Helicobacter pylori)
  • Black cumin can be used to treat nausea, gas, diarrhea and dysentery (a serious digestive infection of the intestines)
  • Basil leaf can decrease acid in the stomach
  • Ginger has antiulcer, antibacterial, antispasm and anti-inflammatory features
  • Mastic gum can be effective against digestion disorders

Modern versions of plant-based remedies include: (28)

  • Ginger ale and ginger chews
  • Peppermint — mint leaves or a sniff of oil or extract
  • Teas, like chamomile, peppermint or ginger root chopped and steeped
  • Apple cider vinegar to calm an upset stomach, with or without honey
  • Bitters (often a combination like cinnamon, fennel, mint and ginger) with a glass of tonic, club soda or ginger ale

5. Manage Your Stress

Managing stress can be a challenge. However, psychosocial stress can have an impact on abdominal pain in adolescents as well as adults. (29)

Some stress-related factors that can put you at risk for stomach pain include: (30)

  • High level of anxiety about your health
  • Fatigue
  • Psychological stress

Common symptoms and issues that may suggest you have a “nervous stomach” include:

  • Tightness, churning stomach
  • Frequent flatulence (gas escape)
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea or queasiness
  • Rapid fullness while eating
  • Increased urination or bowel movements
  • “Butterflies” or a fluttering feeling in the stomach
  • Emotional distress
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Drinking alcohol in excess

Consider trying some of the following natural tips for stress reduction:

  • A nutrient-dense diet that is high in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, electrolytes, amino acids and antioxidants
  • Being out in nature
  • Getting out of your home and being social
  • Meditation or devotional prayer
  • Movement and exercise, including walking and yoga
  • Keeping a journal

6. Keep Your Bowels Regular

Avoiding constipation and diarrhea are two ways you can prevent pain in the stomach region. There are many causes of both of these conditions. Constipation is often caused by caused by a low-fiber diet, not drinking enough water (dehydration) and suffering from emotional distress.

Constipation can be aided with a high-fiber diet and exercise to keep the bowels and your spirits moving well. (31) Consider eating a diet that follows these tips for managing constipation:

  • Eat raw fruits (prunes (dried plums and figs are helpful), vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and green leafy vegetables
  • Drink warm liquids
  • Include more water
  • Leaves out processed foods, fried foods, alcohol, and caffeine drinks like coffee and tea, which can make your body lose water
  • Leave out pasteurized dairy products if you have lactose intolerance
  • Includes supplements, such as flaxseed oil and magnesium

These diet tips also work well for children, especially focusing on more fluids, fiber and fruits, and also probiotic foods like yogurt and milk products. (32)

Consider trying mind-body practices to relieve constipation caused by stress:

  • Exercise, including rebounding on a min-trampoline, or light stretching, dancing, walking, jogging, yoga and swimming
  • Stress relievers (see natural remedy section above)
  • Biofeedback

Diarrhea is often caused by factors including food allergies, an infection or virus, dehydration, stress and certain medications. It is often associated with stomach flu. Diarrhea is aided with a bland and simple diet, known as the BRAT diet:

  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

You can also try some of the suggestions for managing diarrhea:

  • Make gentle, easy-to-digest foods like smoothies and steamed vegetables once you start to recover. If your symptoms worsen again, stop eating fruits and vegetables for a while.
  • Add flaxseed oil to your diet to reduce the time it takes to stop your diarrhea.
  • Try raw honey and ginger root added to herbal teas.
  • Stay hydrated with water.
  • Get more rest and avoid strenuous workouts.
  • Try certain supplements, like probiotics and glutamine powder, to recolonize and repair your digestive tract.
  • Try peppermint oil, which may be helpful and is best for people with irritable bowel syndrome.

Precautions

Go to your doctor if you have severe stomach pain and bloating that appear suddenly or along with:

  • uncontrolled diarrhea
  • uncontrolled vomiting
  • blood in your vomit or stool
  • losing consciousness
  • no bowel movements for three days

Go to your doctor if you have stomach pain after eating each meal along with nausea, painful bowel movements or painful sexual intercourse.

Do not attempt to self-diagnose or self-treat serious or long-term stomach pain. Pain in your stomach area can lead to serious illness or death without proper treatment in some cases.

Depending on what causes your pain, you may need to take drugs as prescribed by your doctor.

Not all of the suggestions in this article will be right for you. Always talk to your physician before stopping or starting any herbal remedies, new exercise routines or other major changes in diet, medication or physical activity.

Final Thoughts

  • Stomach pain is a general term that may include a lot of your body parts other than the stomach. Sometimes pain you think is coming from your stomach may involve your esophagus, bowels, ovaries and period, liver, gallbladder, kidneys or other organs.
  • Remember that abdominal pain often can resolve on its own or be relieved in a short time. Natural remedies abound.
  • Diet is at the center of much of stomach health. What you eat, the drugs you take, and the fluids and alcohol you drink can make a big difference in your health. Sometimes, however, the cause of pain in your stomach can be from internal problems, like inflammation or tube blockage, or from stress or infection.
  • Consider how long your stomach has been hurting or whether there is a come-and-go pattern to pain. Also notice if the pain is on the upper, lower, right or left side, which may be a clue to the cause of your pain.
  • Severe pain always needs to be checked by a doctor. Abdominal pain can sometimes be life threatening.

Natural approaches to reduce your stomach pain may include:

  1. Manage abdominal strain
  2. Reduce gas and bloating
  3. Watch what you put into your body
  4. Try herbal remedies
  5. Manage your stress
  6. Keep your bowels regular

Read Next: Gastritis Symptoms: 4 Natural Treatments for This ‘Sick Tummy’ Problem

DISCLAIMER: This post was developed in sponsored partnership with Buscopan, however, as always, all opinions are genuine.

I share my tips for how to stop stomach cramps and pain, and discuss causes, symptoms and remedies.

Let’s be real. Stomach cramps are just not fun. I can tell you that I’ve had my fair share of annoying tummy troubles and have come up with some really great strategies to get rid of stomach cramps in their track. But first, let’s take a peek at what’s actually going on.

What the Heck Are Stomach Cramps?

Stomach cramps are the tightening of the stomach and intestinal muscles. It’s usually intermittent, but can become chronic in some specific conditions. We all know the feeling, and it never feels good.

What are the Causes of Stomach Cramps?

There are a lot of common reasons for stomach cramps, so it’s important to speak to your family doctor if it’s becoming a regular occurrence. Here are some of the most common reasons for stomach cramps.

1. You’re Feeling Stressed

The brain interacts with the body through the enteric nervous system (among other systems, of course), which helps regulate our digestion. Stress can disrupt the natural digestive process, causing abdominal pain and cramps. Just another reason why stress totally sucks.

2. You Need to Up the H2O

When we get dehydrated as a result of excess vomiting, diarrhea or sweating, we lose a lot of important electrolytes. Since electrolytes (like calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium) are key players in proper muscle contractions, skimping out can cause painful spasms.

3. You’re Feeling Farty

Hey, everyone farts, nothing to be ashamed of there. But when you have a lot of gas in your gut, your intestinal muscles tend to spasm and cramp in an effort to get rid of it. Not fun times.

4. Gastrointestinal issues

If you’ve been diagnosed with an actual digestive issue, stomach cramping may become part of your everyday life. Definitely speak to your doctor about a long-term solution if this sounds like you.

5. You’re Backed Up

When you’re low on water, fibre, or a combination of both, you might find yourself a wee bit constipated. In this situation, your bowels start to cramp up as they try to deal with the built-up pressure inside. It’s bad news bears all around, really. Make sure you’re staying hydrated and getting your 25-38 grams of fibre each day.

6. You Ate Too Much, Too Fast

Hey, even eating too much salad too fast can cause some gastric distress. When your body has to work extra hard in a short period of time, you can experience some mild cramping so slow down your eating pace.

7. You Went a Little Crazy on the Fatty Foods

Fat is harder for our body to digest than carbohydrates so overdoing it on greasy foods like gravy, butter, and fried foods can do a number on the ol’ digestive tract.

8. Your Mouth is on Fire

The active component in hot peppers, capsaicin, has a tendency to irritate the stomach lining, perpetuating stomach pains and cramps. If you’re already prone, go easy on the spicy curries and sauces.

9. You OD’d on Coffee

Caffeine can increase stomach acid and irritate the stomach lining, both of which can cause stomach cramps and even diarrhea if you’re not used to it. Maybe switch to a gentle camomile tea if coffee isn’t your friend.

10. You Ate a Little Too Many Sweets

We know an excess of sugar isn’t the best for us, and our stomach definitely agrees. As sugar is processed through our gut, some of it can get fermented in our lower intestine by bacteria, causing bloating, gas and cramps.

11. You Got into the Bag of Sugar Free Candies

Sugar free candies may seem like a good idea, but they’re typically sweetened with a sugar alcohol like sorbitol which is notorious for causing bloating, cramping and yes, even rampant diarrhea. Stay away. Stay far away. That’s all I’m going to say.

12. You’re Lactose Intolerant and Ate a Tub of B&Js

Considering one in five Canadians are lactose intolerant, stomach cramps can be expected after massive ice cream sundaes. Take a lactase enzyme supplement or just pace yourself.

13. You Had One Too Many Adult Bevvies

Alcohol in excess can damage the stomach lining, resulting in pain, cramps, diarrhea and in extreme cases, serious damage. Always know your limits and stick within it!

How to stop Stomach Cramps and Pain

Friends, you really don’t have to live in pain with stomach cramps. In addition to avoiding or cutting back on some of the aforementioned scenarios, here are a few natural strategies to get rid of stomach cramps.

1. Heat it Up

Heat can help relax your tight spasming tummy by increasing blood circulation, so grab a heating pad or run a warm bath.

2. Starchy Foods and Grains

While an excess of sugar may be inflammatory, slow burning carbs like starches and whole grains help to coat the lining of the stomach, easing digestion and promoting a soothing effect.

There is some research that ginger may be effective for abdominal discomfort and indigestion because it helps to reduce the time for the stomach to empty. Try steeping some fresh ginger in water for a quick tea, or adding grated fresh ginger to stir-fries and juice.

4. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint is a natural anti-spasmodic, meaning it helps to sooth our intestinal tract and calm muscle contractions that cause cramps. It also helps stimulate the gallbladder to secrete bile used to digest fats so it’s a good pairing for those fattier holiday meals.

5. Treat Yourself to a Massage

If it’s just a little gas, you may need to work that out so giving yourself a gentle tummy massage may help ease stomach cramps.

6. Up the Electrolytes

When we’re experiencing a lot of cramping, like stomach cramps, it may be a sign that we’re low on sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium since these electrolytes are responsible for muscle contractions. Aim to up your intake with foods like bananas, coconut water, milk, tomatoes, citrus, pumpkin seeds and sea salt.

7. Buscopan®

Buscopan® is an antispasmodic medication that helps calm cramping muscles and reduces tummy pain. It’s specifically formulated to help target the pain at the source (and not just mask it), while providing relief of stomach cramps. It’s available behind the pharmacist’s counter without a prescription so you don’t have to suffer from those tummy troubles.

8. Easy Exercise

Research suggests (like here and here) that gentle exercise can help calm our gastric tract and reduce bloating, gas and pain. Try to get out every day for a brisk walk or scenic bike ride.

9. Rest and De-stress

If it’s stress related (and hey, that’s totally common), you might just need to pull back and take a break. Try to get in some extra sleep or just lay down for an hour to see if the stomach cramps disappear.

Hopefully this post helped give you some ideas on how to get rid of stomach cramps?

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If you liked this post, you may like:
Gas and Bloating 101 – 5 Reasons for Tummy Trouble
Are Food Sensitivity Tests BS or Legit?
Tips to Avoid the Holiday Heartburn & Indigestion
I would love to know what foods or scenarios you have found cause stomach cramps for you?
What tricks and remedies have you’ve found to stop stomach cramps?
Leave me a comment below and for more information on Buscopan®, speak to your pharmacist or check out Buscopan.ca. To help avoid side effects and ensure proper use, talk to your pharmacist before trying Buscopan®.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Buscopan®, however, all opinions are genuine.

Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian, an avid food writer and blogger, a cookbook author and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen Inc.

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