I’m willing to bet that everyone reading this has had a stomach pain at some point in their lives – they’re pretty common. They’re also pretty benign most of the time (although it doesn’t always feel that way). However, it is important that whenever you have a stomach pain, you treat it seriously because it could be the symptom of something more serious like appendicitis or gallbladder disease.
In a bid to make it easier for you to work out why your stomach is hurting, here are some of the most common causes of stomach pains (and a few less common ones) and their symptoms:
Indigestion is a very common cause of stomach pain, other symptoms of which include acid reflux, bloating and nausea, as well as an acidic taste in the mouth, Usually, this is caused by eating certain foods, and if you can identify a pattern, you can eliminate the cause completely. If not, there are medications that will help.
If you experience serious stomach pain, which is massively painful to the point, it’s hard to handle, and if that pain also reaches your back, causes fever and vomiting, gas or bloating, there is a good chance that you have gallstones and that they are of the serious variety that will require medical attention. You’ll probably need some strong painkillers to get you through gallbladder attacks until you can have it removed, so a visit to the hospital is essential.
I think we all know the symptoms of food poisoning fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, cramps etc., and it’s usually pretty evident when food poisoning has struck, but do bear in mind that it could also be gastroenteritis you’re suffering from. Either way, you’re probably just going to have to ride it out.
An inflamed pancreas typically causes pain in the middle or upper abdomen areas, but it has been known to cause shooting pains that affect the back too. If you suspect pancreatitis, try leaning forwards or backwards, and you may find that it takes a little of the pain away, but this should only be a temporary measure while you seek medical attention. You are more likely to suffer from pancreatitis if you drink a lot (which is true of gallstones actually too), so that’s something to be aware of.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is really very common and can cause upper stomach and lower chest pain, usually in the form of what we would know best as heartburn. Antacids are your best friend if you suffer from GERD, as is eating a healthier diet that’s low in fat, but don’t make it too low because that can cause gallstones. Taking good care of the abdomen area can be so tough!
Appendicitis usually occurs when the organ becomes inflamed, it is usually characterized by a sudden and severe pain at the appendix location, and you should definitely take yourself off to the emergency room if you experience it. Children are much more likely to suffer from appendicitis than adults, but it can happen to anyone at any time, and one way of checking if you have it is to bend your leg on the appendix side – if that causes more pain – it’s probably appendicitis because the muscle that you use to bend your leg is near the appendix.
If your stomach often becomes bloated and gassy and you start to experience pain that can be anywhere on the spectrum from mild to severe, it could be that you have an intolerance to lactose. The obvious way of working this out is by keeping a food diary and watching for when the symptoms occur, but lactose allergies are pretty common, especially in the Asian population, so it could be the cause.
If you are on medication, then it’s worth checking whether stomach pain could be one of the side effects, Even if that isn’t the case, some medications when taken by some people on an empty stomach can cause inflammation which can cause mild to moderate pain and swelling in the stomach area. Antibiotics and pain medications are particularly bad for this, but it’s worth checking any medication you’re taking or consult your doctor if you’re worried.
Another common suspect in the stomach pain department id diverticulitis. This caused by inflammation of the intestinal lining known as diverticula. They tend to get inflamed when you are constipated, and your poop gets into them (they’re basically holes) or when you swallow a foreign object. Common symptoms of this particular illness include lower abdomen cramps, but if you have a serious inflammation, you may get bleeding in the stool or severe stomach pains, and you should see a doctor if that happens! A good way to protect against diverticulitis is by increasing your fiber intake. Eating healthily, in general, will actually help with a lot of the more common stomach pains.
If you’re a woman, and you experience a lot of tummy cramping and severe pain, alongside irregular bleeding, it could be that you are suffering from endometriosis – condition affecting the lining of the uterus. If you think that’s possible, you should see a doctor as a matter of urgency because not only can it spread and get worse, but it can cause infertility, the sooner you catch it and confine it, the better it will be.
Disclaimer: Although I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible in collating this information, you should in no way use it as a substitute for medical advice and intervention. It should be used only as a helpful way of working out potential causes of your stomach pain. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong and when something is wrong, you see a medical professional. Period.
That being said, I hope I have helped you to get to know a bit about the stomach, and abdominal area of your body and the signs that you should be looking out for that something is wrong. The more you know, the better you can take care of your health. Look after yourself.