Stomach is always upset


Is It Crohn’s or Just an Upset Stomach?

Fortunately, most cases of upset stomach can be treated without a trip to the doctor. Treatment should focus on replenishing fluids and dietary management. You may also need antibiotics, but only if the stomachache is caused by certain bacteria.

Clear liquids

For adults, the University of Wisconsin-Madison recommends a clear liquid diet for the first 24 to 36 hours of an upset stomach with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Make sure to drink plenty of water, sports drinks, or other clear liquids (2 to 3 liters per day). You should also avoid solid foods, caffeine, and alcohol.

Wait for one to two hours before attempting to drink a small quantity of water if you are also experiencing vomiting. You can suck on ice chips or popsicles. If you tolerate this, you may move on to other clear liquids, including non-caffeinated drinks, such as:

  • ginger ale
  • 7-Up
  • decaffeinated tea
  • clear broth
  • diluted juices (apple juice is best)

Avoid citrus juices like orange juice.


You may attempt to eat bland foods if you tolerate clear liquids. These include:

  • saltine crackers
  • toasted white bread
  • boiled potatoes
  • white rice
  • applesauce
  • bananas
  • yogurt with live culture probiotics
  • cottage cheese
  • lean meat, like skinless chicken

Scientists are exploring the use of probiotics in preventing and treating viral causes of intestinal infections. Studies have indicated that good gut bacteria species like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteriumhave been shown to decrease the length and severity of diarrhea related to rotavirus infections. Researchers continue to explore the timing, length of use, and amount of probiotics necessary for effective treatment.

The American Academy of Family Physicians says adults may resume a normal diet if symptoms improve after 24 to 48 hours. However, avoid certain foods until your digestive tract has recovered. This may take one to two weeks. These foods include:

  • spicy foods
  • uncultured dairy products (such as milk and cheese)
  • whole grains and other high-fiber foods
  • raw vegetables
  • greasy or fatty foods
  • caffeine and alcohol


Acetaminophen can control symptoms such as fever, headaches, and body aches. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen because they may cause further stomach irritation.

In adults, an over-the-counter bismuth subsalicylate (such as Pepto-Bismol) or loperamide hydrochloride (such as Imodium) can help control diarrhea and loose stool.


Ways to Soothe an Upset Stomach

Posted May 17th, 2017

An upset stomach is one of the most common health complaints. The condition is characterized by general discomfort or pain when the mucosal cells in the lining of your stomach become irritated or inflamed. In most cases, you generally experience the following symptoms:

  • Heaviness
  • Bloating
  • Feeling uncomfortably full
  • Overall discomfort

Feeling queasy?

Was it the pizza you ate last night? Are you getting your period? Determining the right upset stomach remedies can be tiresome when you’re not sure exactly what caused the issue, but the good news is that there are many things you can try. Ultimately, something is bound to work well for you.

Determine the Cause of Your Upset Stomach

In many cases, you can’t pinpoint the exact cause of an upset stomach. Fortunately, most of the common causes for an upset stomach are not serious, and symptoms normally resolve within a few hours.

One of the most common reasons for an upset stomach is food poisoning. According to the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 25% of Americans suffer from some sort of food-related illness each year, though the agency feels that may be an underestimation due to the limitations of self-reporting. Of those people, about 371,000 end up in the hospital and around 5,700 die annually.

Constipation is another common cause for an upset stomach. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about 42 million people in the US suffer from persistent constipation. Constipation is characterized by straining when trying to have a bowel movement, experiencing hard stools and feeling generally bloated and uncomfortable. Causes of constipation can include:


Taking opioids and painkillers

Eating chocolate

Certain vitamins like calcium or iron

Overuse of laxatives

Eating too much dairy


Taking blood pressure or allergy medications

Beyond constipation and food poisoning, there are hosts of other things that can cause an upset stomach, such as:

  • Indigestion, which is the pain or discomfort associated with digesting food.
  • Gastritis, which is a gradual wearing away of the stomach lining that can leave you vulnerable to bleeding or ulcers. Gastritis can be either an acute or a chronic condition.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome, a health condition that affects the lower gastrointestinal tract. It often involves constipation and diarrhea, and can be caused by stress, anxiety or depression.
  • Peptic ulcer, which is a lesion in the stomach lining caused by a combination of pepsin and stomach acid. The infection is normally caused by a type of bacteria called H. pylori.
  • Gastroenteritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach lining caused by either bacteria or a viral infection. Vomiting and diarrhea usually accompany gastroenteritis.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Upset stomach is one of the common symptoms associated with generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Menstrual cramps. A large percentage of women experience an upset stomach along with their menstrual cramps.

Many people are quick to turn to medications to try to relieve their upset stomachs, but there are plenty of natural upset stomach cures worth trying. A first-line option could be to hold a very warm bottle of water or pack to the affected area of your abdomen. This helps relax and loosen your stomach muscles when they’re cramping. This method works best if you’re lying down and you place the pack directly on your stomach. You can repeat this every 15 minutes or so.

If that doesn’t work, it may be time to turn to foods, drinks, or exercises to help ease your discomfort.

Try the BRAT Diet

The majority of upset stomach cases can be treated using foods you have right in your own home. Many people try natural foods to soothe an upset stomach. Adhering to the BRAT diet is a good strategy to help curb stomach discomfort. The diet relies on four main foods to help soothe stomachs, including:

  • Bananas. Bananas are rich with potassium, which can prove helpful if you’re vomiting or experiencing diarrhea and have become dehydrated. They have sugar, but not enough to make you feel nauseous.
  • Rice. Rice and similar starchy foods work to coat the lining of the stomach, which ultimately has a soothing effect. It also helps to move digestion along, and does not linger in the stomach long enough to initiate acid reflux.
  • Applesauce. Applesauce is useful for soothing an uneasy stomach because it is easily digestible and can help curb diarrhea. If you are constipated, eat the skin of the apple, which contains peeling.
  • Toast. Toast is bland and will not linger in your stomach for very long. Make sure to leave off the butter and jam, as those ingredients aren’t bland and will likely cause further discomfort.

Although the BRAT diet is an effective way to soothe an upset stomach, there are other foods that can be just as effective. As a rule of thumb: keep it simple. Possible foods include:

Soup broth that doesn’t contain fat

Crackers, which have a similar digestive function as rice


Yogurt, although this is not an ideal option for people with lactose intolerance

Oat bran, a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber

Cinnamon, which is also recommended for morning sickness and diarrhea

Fennel; half a teaspoon can work wonders

Avocado, which is high in potassium, fiber and healthy oils

Consider Natural Drinks to Soothe an Upset Stomach

Although foods can be helpful in soothing your upset stomach, sometimes you might not feel like eating. In these circumstances, a number of liquids can be equally as effective upset stomach remedies. Here are five drinks you can try:

  1. Chamomile tea. Chamomile helps alleviate the discomfort associated with an upset stomach while working as an anti-inflammatory agent. This is especially helpful for gastritis-related pain in which the stomach lining is inflamed. Chamomile also helps to relax the muscles located in the upper digestive track. During an upset stomach, the muscle contracts to push the food in your tract along. Relaxing it helps to soothe the pain associated with cramping and spasms. All you need to prepare a cup of chamomile tea is a tea bag or 1-2 teaspoons of dried chamomile leaves and hot water.
  2. The water left over after making a pot of rice. Leftover water from rice has demulcent properties, which means the water can relieve inflammation. If the base is too bitter, consider adding some honey.
  3. Mint tea. Pe
    ppermint tea helps to alleviate pain associated with gas or bloating and helps to relax the stomach muscles. You can also choose to suck on a peppermint candy or chew peppermint gum if you prefer. If you are experiencing heartburn, you may want to avoid peppermint. It can cause stomach acid to retreat into the esophagus, which exacerbates heartburn.
  4. Warm lemon water. Adding fresh lemon juice into a warm glass of water can help naturally heal an upset stomach because the extra acidity can help digest food that may be lingering. Do not go overboard with lemon because the acidity level could exacerbate your upset stomach.
  5. Ginger root tea. Ginger products are rife with anti-inflammatory properties that can help increase digestive juice. Ginger also contains gingerols, which is an antioxidant that can lower free radicals and reduce pain.

Address Your Upset Stomach With Exercise

Drinks and foods might help soothe your upset stomach, but if they aren’t effective remedies, exercise may help. Exercise is one of the lesser known remedies for an upset stomach. It may seem counterintuitive, but getting yourself up and moving might help. Certain yoga poses can help settle your upset stomach. The following stretches work to relieve stomach discomfort:

Forward bends and Jathara Parivrtti, which is a revolved abdominal twist, and knee-to-chest poses like Apansana can provide a soothing effect and can either kick start a slow-going bowel movement or calm a hyperactive one.

For constipation, you can move digestion along by working in some stronger poses like Uttanasana, which is a standing forward bend and Parivrtta Trikonasana, which is a revolved triangle pose.

The bridge pose can stimulate abdominal organs as well as thyroid glands, which ultimately helps to aid in digestion and can even boost your metabolism. To get into bridge pose, lie on the floor in supine pose, bend you knees and put your feet flat on the floor with your heels as close to you as possible. Then, inhale and push your pelvis up, and then exhale.

Balasana, or Child’s Pose, can help relax the muscles on the front of your body, including your abdominal muscles. To get into this pose, kneel on the floor with your big toes together while sitting on your heels. Exhale, and then lean your torso between your thighs.

It is important to remember that a healthy diet, anxiety relief techniques and regular exercise are all strategies to help you avoid an upset stomach in the first place.

Know the Signs of Something Dangerous

If symptoms of an upset stomach persist for too long, you will have to seek emergency medical attention. If you experience any of the following symptoms along with your upset stomach, seek emergency care:


An inability to eat without vomiting

Having a difficult time breathing or experiencing chest pain while breathing

Feeling as though you might faint or being persistently lightheaded

Passing a dark or black stool

Vomiting blood

Relieve Stomach Discomfort in an Acute Setting

In many other cases, visiting an urgent care center like AllBetterCare can help you determine the cause of your upset stomach and get well as soon as possible without visiting an emergency room. As a patient at AllBetterCare, you can expect to enjoy several conveniences:

  • Rapid registration, so you can get the care you need as quickly as possible
  • A team-based treatment approach that could involve a physician, physician assistant or clinical assistant
  • Coordination of care efforts that involve communicating with your primary care physician, getting specialty referrals as needed, and outpatient imaging
  • An automated discharge process that includes e-prescribing services and an on-site pharmacy for your convenience

The staff at AllBetterCare consists of seasoned, experienced physicians with specialties in emergency medicine, family medicine and a wide range of other medical specialties. We can handle the acute problems, like upset stomachs, that do not warrant a visit to your primary care physician or the emergency room. Convenient care should be on your schedule.

The services offered by AllBetterCare include:

  • Digital x-ray services
  • EKG
  • Respiratory therapy
  • Medication reconciliation services to detect allergies or any potential drug-to-drug interactions
  • E-prescribing services and access to electronic health records for ease information gathering
  • Slit lamp for eye exams and foreign body removal
  • IV hydration services
  • Orthopedic care
  • Laceration care
  • Pre-employment drug testing
  • Vaccinations
  • Physicals

Contact AllBetterCare today to learn more about services offered and to schedule an appointment with our caring, compassionate staff.

Growing Up Columns

Understanding the Link between Stress and Stomach Aches in Children

By Dr. Rebecca Cherry

Abdominal pain and stress are related in many ways. Having abdominal pain can cause stress, especially when it leads to missed school or other activities. But more often, stress causes abdominal pain, or makes it worse. Do you ever have “butterflies in your stomach” when you are nervous? Did you ever feel sick to your stomach when you got some bad news? Children feel the same things, but often can’t tell where those feelings come from. It took a long a time to understand why my stomach hurt every morning when I turned the corner to my middle school.

Scientists can explain why we have these feelings: the stomach and intestine have their own nervous system, called the enteric nervous system. These nerves respond to the same stress hormones and neurotransmitters that our brains do. We also know that stress and fatigue decrease pain thresholds. This means that a small change, like the passage of a gas bubble, can feel much worse when a person is stressed, tired, and run down. When a person is well-rested and feeling good, he or she might not even notice the gas bubble.

Stress-related eating can worsen pain, too. Which are the “comfort foods” your child prefers? Are they high in lactose or fructose, such as milk, apple juice, macaroni and cheese, or ice cream? Many people have a poor ability to digest lactose or fructose. Although these conditions are not dangerous, they can be very uncomfortable, causing pain, cramping, bloating, and even diarrhea.

Sometimes, pain and diarrhea indicate intestinal inflammation, especially when there is blood in the stool. Inflammatory bowel disease can cause both pain and stress (imagine having to run to the bathroom a dozen times each day). And inflammation in the body can affect the brain, causing the sorts of changes that make people more sensitive to pain. Fortunately, inflammatory bowel disease is not common in children. If you are concerned that your child might have it, be sure to discuss it with your pediatrician.

So what can you do if your child has pain that is related to stress? Sometimes, a parent can help to figure out the stressor. Maybe it’s that mean kid in the lunchroom. Maybe it’s that sport your child wants to drop but feels he or she can’t. But even when you have identified the stressors, they may not easily be fixed. As we all know, stress cannot be completely avoided. And some stress is even good stress. Instead of getting rid of stress, it is more helpful in the long term for your child to learn to manage it and to recognize when he or she is having physical symptoms of stress.

Medications may be necessary for some kids to control stress and anxiety. But more often, counseling can help, possibly along with other family members. I was also surprised to learn a few years ago that hypnosis can benefit patients with stress-related stomach pain by letting the power of the mind help with physical symptoms. Mindfulness meditation is also a practice that can reduce pain. Best of all, counseling, hypnosis, and mindfulness don’t have any side effects, and they might be helpful in other areas of your child’s life where stress plays a role, besides the stomach pain.

Bottom line: If your child has persistent stomach pain, talk with your doctor. It may turn out to be stress related, and once you know what the problem is, you can find the tools to fix it.

Dr. Rebecca Cherry is associate director of the Motility Center at Rady Children’s Hospital–San Diego and an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego. She can be reached at [email protected]

Upset Stomach (Indigestion): Possible Causes

What causes indigestion?

A disease or an ulcer in the digestive tract might cause indigestion. However, for most people, it is the result of eating too much, eating too fast, eating high-fat foods, or eating during stressful situations. Indigestion is not caused by excess stomach acid. Swallowing a great deal of air when eating may increase the symptoms of belching and bloating, which are often associated with indigestion. Some medications can also irritate the stomach lining and cause indigestion.

Being tired or stressed, smoking, or drinking too much alcohol or caffeinated beverages can cause indigestion or make it worse. These factors can also worsen underlying conditions that cause indigestion, such as hiatal hernias and gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD). Emotional stress or other psychological conditions may result in abdominal pain.

Sometimes people have persistent indigestion that is not related to any of these factors. This type of indigestion is called functional, or nonulcer, and is caused by a problem with how food moves through the digestive tract.

What are some of the symptoms of indigestion?

Some characteristic symptoms of indigestion are:

  • Burning in the stomach or upper abdomen
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating (full feeling)
  • Belching and gas
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Acidic taste
  • “Growling” stomach
  • Diarrhea (sometimes).

Symptoms of indigestion usually increase in times of stress and decrease in times of relaxation.

How is indigestion diagnosed?

Because indigestion is such a broad term, it is helpful to provide your physician with a precise description of the discomfort you are having. In describing the symptoms, try to define where in the abdomen the discomfort usually occurs. Simply reporting indigestion as pain in the stomach is not detailed enough for your physician to help identify and treat your problem.

To diagnose indigestion, your physician must first rule out any underlying conditions such as ulcers. You may have X-rays of the stomach or small intestine. Your physician may also use an instrument called an endoscope to look closely at the inside of the stomach. An endoscope is a flexible tube that contains a light and a camera to produce images of the stomach and intestines in a procedure called endoscopy. A gastroscopy is a similar procedure used to evaluate just the inside of the stomach.

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Why Do I Have Stomach Pain and Diarrhea?

The occurrence of abdominal pain and diarrhea can be a familiar one, and nearly everybody will suffer from this combination at some point during their lifetime. 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 it’s 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.

Figuring Out the Cause

When you’re suffering from stomach pain, diarrhea, or both, one of the most important things is to try to determine the root cause. Quite often, this type of gastrointestinal upset is due to stomach flu or another virus, spoiled food, or food that one has developed a sensitivity to. Unless diarrhea and pain are accompanied by other severe symptoms, such as a high fever, the best course of action is to wait it out. If you feel that it is a reaction to food, most times symptoms will subside in a day or two. However, there are some instances of food poisoning that definitely warrant a doctor visit – but again, you will see other severe symptoms along with general GI upset.

If you think you may be having a reaction to food, such as those with celiac disease who have a sensitivity to gluten, it’s worthwhile to try an elimination diet to confine the source of the upset. It is possible to suddenly develop a food sensitivity later in life – it’s also estimated that up to 20 percent of Americans have food sensitivity. Please note that celiac is a serious condition and ongoing exposure to gluten can cause increasing damage. Celiac should not be self-diagnosed.

Other causes you may be able to manage on your own include overeating, alcohol intake, medications, and stress. Stress levels can take a significant toll on the body, especially when it comes to GI problems. Try practicing mindfulness meditation or some other type of calming exercises, if at all possible. Regular physical activity is also an option for stress relief.

Stomach and bowel upset are also due to drinking too much alcohol or eating too much food. Try to manage your portion control when it comes to both food and libations. It’s recommended that women not drink more than one drink per day, while for men it is two per day. Some medications may also trigger stomach upset, so it’s good to ask yourself if the side effects of taking them outweigh the benefits. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and aspirin, metformin (which is for diabetes), magnesium supplements, and antibiotics.

More Serious Causes

Diarrhea and stomach cramps or pain can have other causes, and if these conditions persist more than a few days, it may be indicative of a gastrointestinal issue like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Generally speaking, IBD is much more serious than IBS, although both can negatively affect quality of life. IBD can permanently damage the digestive tract, which is why arresting its symptoms is so important. IBD is often accompanied by blood in the stool, weight loss, fatigue, and other problems. IBS may carry some of the same symptoms but does not permanently damage the digestive tract. You may also experience gas and bloating along with IBS.

The main difference between these two conditions and flu or food-related symptoms is the length of time a patient experiences diarrhea and cramps. If you find you have GI upset for more than a week or so, it’s a good idea to let your physician know.

When to Call the Doctor

If you experience symptoms for more than a week, it’s wise to make a doctor’s appointment. However, if you have severe symptoms at any point throughout, it is also a good idea to be seen. Other symptoms that warrant a doctor visit include high fever, nausea and vomiting, confusion, difficulty speaking, vision problems, rapid heart rate, and seizures. While the most common symptoms of diarrhea and stomach problems are flu, food reactions, medications, stress, alcohol consumption, IBD, and IBS, these conditions can also be indicative of cancer, cystic fibrosis, appendicitis, or intestinal obstruction. If you have persistent symptoms, it’s best to be safe and be seen.

If you need to see a doctor for diarrhea and abdominal pain, or you are experiencing other GI upset, book an appointment at Carolina Digestive today. Eight office locations ensure that you are providing quality and convenient care.

Sensitive Stomach: What You Should Know

Because there are many things that can upset a sensitive stomach, it can take time to pinpoint and solve the problem. Here are some remedies you can try at home to alleviate your discomfort.

Eat smaller portions

Filling your stomach too much can make you gassy and give you indigestion. Try reducing the amount of food you put on your plate at each meal.

Eating five or six small meals per day may also be more comfortable for your stomach than eating three large meals.

Eat more slowly

Eating too quickly can also give you unpleasant trapped gas and indigestion. Make sure your food is well-chewed before you swallow, since digestion starts long before the food reaches your stomach.

Eliminate potentially irritating foods

Foods that can irritate a sensitive stomach include:

  • dairy
  • spicy foods
  • processed foods
  • oily or fried foods
  • alcohol
  • gluten

It might take a little trial and error, but identifying and eliminating foods you’re sensitive to will go a long way. If you already suspect what foods might be triggers for your sensitivity, it can be helpful to find substitute foods or foods that are similar in texture or taste.

And if your stomach is especially sensitive, you might decide to eliminate all possible triggers to begin with to relieve your symptoms. If you choose to reintroduce these triggers one at a time later, you’ll be able to identify the problematic food.

Drink more water

If you don’t drink enough water every day, you might be chronically dehydrated without realizing it. Inadequate water intake can cause problems with digestion and elimination.

If you don’t have enough water in your body, your colon can’t pull enough water in for proper bowel movements. In other words, if you don’t drink enough, you could end up constipated.

Lower your caffeine intake

Caffeine can be a stomach irritant. If you consume high amounts every day, lowering your caffeine intake could soothe your stomach.

You might also consider changing the time of day when you drink caffeine to see if that helps. If caffeine is the main culprit, you may want to gradually eliminate it from your diet.

Reduce your stress

Chronic stress can lead to an upset stomach. If you aren’t able to pinpoint irritating foods, it might be that stress is triggering your discomfort. Consider adding a stress-relieving practice to your routine, like meditation or yoga.

Foods that tend to be soothing to people with sensitive stomachs include:

  • cooked fruits and vegetables
  • lean protein
  • easily digestible grains
  • fat-free or low-fat dairy

Your doctor may also recommend a short-term, low-fiber diet to ease your discomfort.

If you’re diagnosed with one or more food intolerances, your doctor will recommend you eliminate the food or foods in question. If you are diagnosed with an autoimmune condition like celiac disease, you’ll have to go on a gluten-free diet to manage your symptoms.

If your doctor diagnoses you with a food allergy, you may be prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector. You’ll need to strictly avoid your allergens, as even a small exposure could cause you to have a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.

Even if you’ve only had small allergic reactions in the past, the next one could be severe or deadly.

Why Some Workouts Make You Feel Like Throwing Up

Photo: Jakob Helbig/Getty Images

Of the more glamorous things you can do in a day, exercise probably isn’t one of them. Spend enough time running, biking, or hiking in the great outdoors and you learn to get comfortable with bodily functions not discussed in polite conversation. But no matter how seasoned you may be, coming to terms with a queasy stomach (often, an upset stomach after workouts) isn’t easy. Those who’ve dashed for the Porta Potty or thought they were going to vom during CrossFit know what we mean.

If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone. A recent study found that up to 50 percent of athletes deal with GI problems. Other experts put the number even higher. “About 95 percent of my clients experience some GI problem over the course of their career,” says Krista Austin, Ph.D., a coach and founder of Performance and Nutrition Coaching in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The most frequent symptoms read like a Pepto-Bismol jingle: nausea, heartburn, indigestion, and diarrhea. (Related: Surprising Things Destroying Your Digestion)

Women are more likely to experience an upset stomach after a workout (or during) than men are; hormones may be to blame. “Out of the 25,000 patients we see each year, 60 percent are women, and they outnumber men in diagnoses of functional GI disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome,” says gastroenterologist J. Thomas LaMont, M.D., a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Exercise, especially running, tends to bring out symptoms.” And though gastrointestinal distress isn’t usually a health threat, embarrassing symptoms can prevent women from getting help and discourage them from exercising altogether.

Here’s how it happens: When you begin your workout, the muscles you’re relying on most-your quads during a run, for example-compete with your internal organs for blood. Your organs need blood for digestion; your muscles need it for strength as you exercise. (ICYMI, here’s the real difference between muscle strength and muscle endurance.) Because the energy demands of your quads are greater, your organs lose out and your body directs up to 80 percent of its blood flow to your legs. In turn, the gastrointestinal system is left with fewer resources with which to digest the food and water you’ve taken in before or during your workout.

Which is why, even just 20 minutes in, you may start feeling nauseous during your workout. “Some people can exercise comfortably after wolfing down a meal 15 minutes before a workout. Others can’t eat anything within two hours or they’ll feel bloated and sluggish,” says Bob Murray, Ph.D., founder of Sports Science Insights, a consulting group that specializes in exercise science and sports nutrition in Fox River Grove, Illinois.

Possible Causes-and Solutions-for Upset Stomach and Nausea During and After Workouts

Take a look at some of the things that are commonly thought to increase your chance of nausea, and ways you can avoid this awful feeling in the future.


Although it’s always important to take the recommended dosage of any medication, pay close attention to your intake of anti-inflammatory medicines; excessive amounts of ibuprofen or naproxen can cause nausea, says Daphne Scott, M.D., a primary care sports medicine physician at The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. So while it may be tempting to muffle your knee pain with OTC anti-inflammatories to get you through that tough workout, one too many can leave you feeling sick.

What to do: Never take more than recommended on the box or than prescribed by your doctor. And if taking an anti-inflammatory, do so post-workout instead. (And eat one of these 15 anti-inflammatory foods for a natural pain-tamer.)

Intensity Level

Surprisingly, exercise-induced nausea can happen at any speed and at any intensity. Scott says that high-intensity exercise can increase your chance of nausea during workouts due to the sheer fact that the harder you work, the more you ask of your body; however, nausea can occur at any intensity level. “This is thought to be partly due to conditioning level,” she says, but emotions and anxiety play a large role too. “If you’re stressed or excited about a competition. If you’re trying a new gym or new exercise routine, the nervous excitement could cause you to be nauseous during or an upset stomach after workouts.”

What to do: At the gym? Reduce your speed or resistance until the feeling subsides-usually fairly quickly after you slow down or stop moving, says Scott. In class? Scott recommends simply taking a step back, slowing down, and rejoining the group once you feel better. Stop internally competing with yourself; if you get sick, no one wins.

Fitness Level

Although it’s reasonable to assume exercise-induced nausea can occur if a beginner pushes him or herself too hard, too fast, overall the phenomenon is not prejudiced to any skill level. In fact, GI distress is relatively common among endurance athletes like marathon runners or long-distance cyclists-some of the most “in shape” athletes in the world. One study published in the journal Appetite tested subjects of different genders and conditioning levels, asking them to fast, eat right before, or eat directly after exercise and found that food intake and intensity level affected nausea during workouts, but gender and conditioning level did not. “Training did not decrease exercise-induced nausea,” they reported.

What to do: Progress through your fitness level in stages. Don’t try an expert-level kickboxing class if you’ve never tried the technique before. There’s no shame in starting from the bottom-only up from there!


During exercise, blood flows away from your gut, towards larger working muscles. Problem is, inadequate hydration affects the volume of blood pumping through your body, which can exacerbate that GI distress and gut immobility we mentioned before.

What to do: This answer is as straightforward as it gets: drink more water, more often. And not just when you’re exercising: “Be aware of your hydration throughout the week.” (Related: What Happened When I Drank Twice as Much Water as Usual)


Perhaps one of the largest players in the workout-nausea game is your diet. Eating a large meal and going to boot camp shortly after is a fairly obvious recipe for an upset stomach after workouts. However, Scott says that skipping meals or not eating a satiating balance of protein and carbs can also play a role. Too full and your stomach won’t have enough time to properly digest. Hungry? An empty gurgling stomach will have your water sloshing around in your stomach making waves. It may take some time to learn what’s best for your stomach, as it’s different for everyone. (Related: The Best Foods to Eat Before and After a Workout)

What to do: Examine your pre-, during-, and post-workout eating habits. If you typically don’t eat for a long time before a workout, try having a small snack 30 minutes to an hour before, says Scott. Conversely, if you tend to eat a lot before exercise, try to reduce the amount of food and replace it with a smaller amount of healthy fats, carbs, and protein such as nuts or nut butter on a piece of toast, she says.


You’re familiar with the positive hormonal changes that occur with exercise (more endorphins! less cortisol!). But Scott says there are many different theories on how hormones may affect GI symptoms like nausea during exercise. “One thought is that hormones are released from the brain and lead to a release of catecholamines (hormones released by the adrenal glands), which can then cause a delay in gastric emptying,” she says.

What to do: Take a pause if you’re feeling nauseous during your workout, then join the game when you’re feeling better. You can still embrace these 13 mental health benefits of exercise.

How to Deal with Upset Stomach After Workouts of All Kinds

The key is to know which side effects are apt to accompany your favorite fitness activity and practice these smart strategies to minimize them.

Stomach Problems for Runners

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Side stitches

All that pavement pounding jostles the gastrointestinal tract and its contents, triggering lower GI problems. Numerous studies have found that about 50 percent of long-distance runners report problems like cramping and diarrhea during the event. Side stitches, the bane of beginner runners, are caused partly by “gravity and the natural movement of running, which strains connective tissues in the abdomen,” Murray says. (Related: Easy Yoga Poses That Can Help with Digestion)

Fix it fast: To redirect blood to your gut, slow your pace until your heart rate decreases to a comfortable level. For side stitches, change your stride, slow down, or twist your torso gently in the direction opposite your side ache. A true emergency? Find the nearest Porta Potty or big tree. Trust us, you won’t be the first or the last to do so.

Prevent it

  • Hydrate. Drink four to six ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout, alternating between water and sports drinks for longer sessions to replenish electrolytes, says Ilana Katz, R.D., a sports nutritionist in Atlanta.
  • Ditch the soda. Cola is sometimes used as pre-race drink thanks to the stimulating effects of its caffeine and sugar. But carbonated air bubbles cause bloating, Katz says.
  • Dodge the fat. Nix fatty meals a full day before a big workout, because fat and fiber are digested more slowly than carbs or protein. Also, foods containing lactose (dairy), sorbitol (sugarless gum), and caffeine activate the GI tract. Avoid them starting four hours before your run, says Kevin Burroughs, M.D., a sports medicine doctor in Concord, North Carolina.

Stomach Problems for Bikers

  • Acid reflux
  • Indigestion

Up to 67 percent of athletes get acid reflux, compared with about 10 percent of the general population, a Polish study reports. It’s common in cyclists because of their forward-leaning riding position, which increases pressure on the abdomen and can direct stomach acid back up the esophagus, says Carol L. Otis, M.D., a sports medicine physician in Portland, Oregon.

Fix it fast: Switch your position so that you sit more upright in the saddle. If possible, take a short break during your ride and walk for a few minutes. Stop eating and drinking until symptoms subside.

Prevent it

  • Be proactive. Before you hit the road, consider taking an OTC antacid, like Maalox or Mylanta, especially if you’re prone to reflux. “The medicine protects the esophagus with a thin coating, lessening the burn if you have reflux problems while biking,” Dr. Otis says.
  • Perfect your posture. Keeping your upper back flat instead of hunching over your handlebars decreases the pressure on your abs, Dr. Burroughs says. And make sure your seat is adjusted for your height: Too high or too low will alter your posture, increasing tension in the abdomen, leading to reflux.
  • Eat less. Energy bars and similar foods make easy snacks while cycling, but some bikers bite off more than their stomachs can comfortably handle. For rides of less than an hour, skip the snacks. More than 60 minutes? Consume 200 to 300 calories of simple carbs, like sports drinks, gels, and bars, during each hour to help keep muscles fueled. (Related: Is it Bad to Eat an Energy Bar Every Day?)

Stomach Problems for Swimmers

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Belching
  • Bloating
  • Nausea

“Some swimmers hold their breath without exhaling while their faces are underwater. This means that when they turn their heads to breathe, they have to exhale and inhale at the same time, which causes them to gulp and swallow air and water,” says Mike Norman, cofounder of Chicago Endurance Sports, who trains swimmers and triathletes. A stomach full of air can lead to bloating; gulping water during saltwater swims can cause abdominal cramping. (By the way, if you’re always bloated, you need to know about this digestive disorder.)

Fix it fast: Most cramping and bloating occur during belly-down strokes (breast and freestyle), so flip onto your back and ease the pace until the pain subsides. Also try treading water for a few minutes to keep your mouth above the surface, Norman suggests.

Prevent it

  • Breathe better. Proper technique helps you access oxygen with less effort. You can dodge waves-and your competitors-by learning to breathe on both sides. When you turn your head to breathe, try looking under your armpit, not forward, to avoid getting a mouthful of water. Slowly exhale through your mouth when you return your face to the water.
  • Wear a cap. In an open-water swim, choppy, cold waters can cause disorientation and nausea. Using a swim cap or earplugs can help with balance problems.

Strength Training Stomach Problems

  • Acid reflux
  • Indigestion

“Bearing down to lift a weight while holding your breath, which people often do during strength training, increases pressure on the stomach contents and can force acid up into the esophagus,” Dr. Otis says. That leads to heartburn and indigestion. In fact, people who lift weights experience more reflux than those who engage in other sports, even cycling, according to research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. (Related: Answers to the Most Common Weight Lifting Questions From Beginners)

Fix it fast: Pop an antacid midworkout. Drinking water will also help wash acid south.

Prevent it

  • Focus on form. Practice exhaling as you contract your muscles to lift the weight and inhaling as you release for each rep.
  • Sleep on a slant. Propping your head atop two pillows when you go to bed at night encourages acid to stay in the stomach. (Stick with one pillow if you’re prone to back problems.)
  • Eat earlier. For some women, last night’s dinner may appear as tomorrow morning’s workout heartburn. Digestion slows during sleep, so it’s better to eat dinner four hours or more before bedtime.
  • Avoid trigger foods. Cut back on reflux aggravators, like chocolate, citrus, coffee, peppermint, and onions.

Still Have an Upset Stomach After Workouts? Try These Natural Stomach Soothers

These herbs might help take the edge off workout-induced tummy upset. You can find them in capsule form at your health food store, but the simplest way to get your daily dose is to drink them in a tea.

  • For gas and heartburn: Try chamomile. This pre-bedtime beverage may be a powerful anti-inflammatory. A cup of chamomile tea is used to soothe and calm the entire digestive tract.
  • For nausea: Try ginger. Ginger is believed to settle the stomach by suppressing gastric contractions and aiding digestion.
  • For cramps and diarrhea: Try peppermint. Peppermint has menthol, which may help control muscle spasms that lead to cramps and the urgent need to go to the bathroom.
  • By By Alyssa Sparacino and Jessica Girdwain

If you have morning sickness, you’ve got lots of company. About 80 percent of pregnant women go through some nausea or upset stomach. It most often begins between the fourth and eighth weeks you are pregnant and lasts until the 16th to 20th week.

Most times, things get better during the second trimester, weeks 14 to 28.

Not just for mornings

  • Morning sickness can really happen at any time of the day.
  • Many women are queasiest when they wake up, while others find themselves feeling some nausea in the late afternoon or just after dinner.
  • As many women have found, morning sickness can happen any time you don’t have food in your stomach.

The causes

  • Some experts think that morning sickness results from higher hormone levels.
  • Other causes may include:
    • A stronger sense of smell
    • Changes in the stomach and other organs that come from being pregnant
  • Many women also find that not getting the right amount of rest or feeling stressed can cause morning sickness or make it worse.

What will happen if it doesn’t go away?

  • Most women with morning sickness find they can get by if they can just eat a few small snacks and drink fluids throughout the day.
  • If you have morning sickness and haven’t been able to keep food down for a while, you should talk to your doctor.

Will my morning sickness hurt my baby?

  • Unless it is so bad that you can’t keep any food down or don’t have the right amount of water in your body from throwing up, there’s no need to worry.
  • Focus on drinking plenty of fluids and eating small, healthy snacks throughout the day to keep your energy up.
  • What are the best ways to stop morning sickness?

    • Specific causes vary from person to person. Once you figure out what brings on your morning sickness, do what you can to avoid them.
      • If a certain smell makes you sick, try to avoid that scent.
      • If a certain food or taste upsets your stomach, don’t eat that food and avoid that taste while pregnant.
      • If not getting the right amount of sleep makes it worse, try to get more rest .
      • If rushing or moving quickly seems to make you sick, leave extra time to walk slowly, or ask for a lift to the bus in the morning.

    Eat early and often

    • Keep extra snacks with you so you won’t have to go too long between meals.
      • Store some almonds in your desk drawer at work.
      • Drop some carrot sticks in a bag and carry them with you for the day.
      • You can even keep a bag of snacks on your bedside table, so you can eat something before getting out of bed.

      Stock up on carbohydrates

      • High-carb, low-fat foods don’t tend to make pregnant women feel sick.
      • For many women, rice crackers or animal crackers are good at soothing a fretful stomach.

      Find help in bubbles

      • Many pregnant women say carbonated drinks such as ginger ale, seltzer water and bitter lemon help.
      • Stay away from drinks with caffeine, though, such as colas and coffee.

      Stay hydrated

      • If water doesn’t agree with you, try chewing ice chips or sucking on popsicles made from fruit juice.

      Snack on citrus

      • Many women find that anything lemon- or citrus-flavored helps to keep them from feeling sick.
      • Try lemonade, lemon or orange hard candies or a slice of orange or grapefruit.

      Easy on the iron

      • Iron can be hard on your stomach. Many pregnant women blame iron supplements for making their upset stomachs worse.
      • Unless your doctor says you aren’t getting the right amount iron, you may be able to skip your iron supplements, or at least take less, and get what you need from your diet.
      • Talk to your doctor if you’re having trouble with iron supplements. He or she may suggest you switch to one without iron until you’re further along and your upset stomach lets up.


      • Try taking your prenatal vitamins with food, and do this at night instead of in the morning.


      • Ginger has long been thought to help with an upset stomach.
      • Be sure to only use it under a doctor’s supervision because it hasn’t been proven safe for pregnant women.

      Acupressure bands

      • These bands go on your wrists and were developed to help with motion sickness, but some women use them to help ease the upset stomach of morning sickness.

      Prescription medicines

      • There are also a number of drugs for women when over-the-counter (OTC) remedies don’t work.
      • Some are considered safe to use while pregnant, and the chance of good results can often outweigh the risks of fluid loss.
      • Talk with your doctor before you take any medicine.

      Copyright © 2010 LimeHealth

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