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Stomach ache, also known as abdominal pain, is a feeling of discomfort in your belly area. The pain can be crampy, dull, intermittent, or severe, depending on its cause. Usually, stomach inflammation (burning sensation in stomach) or other infections can affect the organs in the stomach region, which causes mild to severe pain. Major organs in the body that are located in the abdomen region are as follows:

  • Intestines (small and large)

  • Kidneys

  • Appendix

  • Spleen

  • Stomach

  • Gallbladder

  • Liver

  • Pancreas

The discomfort one experiences when suffering from stomach ache can be due to viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections.

Additionally, stomach pain can be of the following types:

  • Acute Pain:

Here, the abdominal pain lasts for a few hours or days and usually is accompanied by other symptoms.

  • Chronic Pain:

This may last longer, for a few weeks to months or more.

  • Progressive Pain:

Here, the pain gets worse over time and often has other symptoms with it.

In this section, we will be discussing stomach ache causes, diagnosis, treatment, and preventive measures in detail. Let us begin by understanding the symptoms of the same.

Symptoms of a Stomach Ache

Stomach ache symptoms depend on the underlying medical condition that one can be suffering. The following table gives a brief overview of the same.

Stomach Ache Symptoms Related to the Digestive Tract

Stomach ache affecting the digestive tract is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as:

  • Belching

  • Change in bowel movements

  • Diarrhoea

  • Flatulence

  • Gas

  • Indigestion

  • Nausea

  • Poor appetite

  • Vomiting

Stomach Ache Symptoms Related to Other Body Issues

When abdominal pain is due to other conditions in the body, the symptoms for the same can be as follows:

  • Chest pain

  • Easy bleeding or bruising

  • Fatigue

  • Fever and chills

  • Missed menstrual period in case of women

  • Pale skin

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing

  • Rashes

  • Tenderness in belly

  • Urinary issues

Stomach Ache Symptoms that Indicate Life-Threatening Issues

Sometimes, stomach pain can be accompanied by a few other symptoms that are a cause of a life-threatening health concern. These symptoms include:

  • Bloody or black stools

  • Breathing difficulty

  • Dizziness

  • Lethargy and feeling of unconsciousness

  • High fever

  • Pulsating mass in the abdomen

  • Rapid pulse or fast breathing

  • Severe stomach pain

  • Vomiting blood or black material

  • Weakness

  • Jaundice

What Causes Stomach Ache?

Oftentimes, the most common cause of stomach ache involves digestive issues. It is due to relatively harmless gastrointestinal conditions such as indigestion, gas, and constipation. Sometimes, even stress and anxiety can lead to stomach pain in most people.

However, it is best to rule out other medical conditions, as stomach ache can be due to infections, malignancy, inflammation, trauma, obstruction, and other abnormal issues. At times, life-threatening health concerns such as trauma, abdominal aortic aneurysm, pleading peptic ulcer, etc. can also cause stomach ache.

Additionally, infections in other body systems such as the endocrine, nervous, reproductive, and urinary, can cause stomach pain. We have discussed the causes of stomach ache in the following categories:

  1. Gastrointestinal causes

  2. Other health-related causes

  3. Life-threatening causes

Gastrointestinal Causes of Stomach Ache

The following issues in the digestive tract can cause abdominal pain:

  • Appendicitis

  • Bowel blockage or obstruction

  • Celiac disease

  • Colitis

  • Colorectal cancer

  • Constipation

  • Diverticulitis

  • Food intolerances or allergies

  • Food poisoning

  • Gallstones

  • Gas

  • Gastritis and viral gastroenteritis

  • Indigestion

  • Crohn’s disease

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver failure

  • Pancreatitis

  • Peptic ulcer

Other Health-Related Causes of Stomach Ache

Sometimes, stomach ache can be one of the symptoms of issues in other body systems other than the digestive tract. These include:

  • Abdominal trauma

  • Abdominal tumour or mass

  • Endometriosis

  • Hernia

  • Kidney issues

  • Medication side effects

  • Ovarian cyst

  • Prostatitis

  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

  • Shingles

  • Spleen

  • Toxic exposures

  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)

  • Uterine fibroids

Life-Threatening Causes of Stomach Ache

At times, stomach ache can be a symptom of some major health issues. These are as follows:

  • Abdominal abscess

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm

  • Acute congestive heart failure

  • Ascites

  • Bowel obstruction

  • Cancer

  • Gastrointestinal haemorrhage

  • Kidney failure

  • Liver failure

  • Occlusion, embolism, or thrombosis of mesenteric artery

  • Perforated peptic ulcer

  • Peritonitis

  • Portal hypertension

  • Pulmonary embolism, if there upper-left side stomach pain or pain in the right side of the stomach

Diagnosis of Stomach Ache

Your doctor will diagnose your abdominal pain for other underlying health conditions. This is done through a series of tests. However, before recommending any test, the doctor will perform a physical examination. It includes gently pressing on the stomach region to check for tenderness and swelling.

Along with this, the severity of your stomach ache and its location is also noted. Based on the observations of the physical examination, the doctor will suggest further tests. These include:

  • Imaging tests such as MRI scans, ultrasounds, X-Rays, etc.

  • Colonoscopy

  • Endoscopy

  • Upper GI

Additionally, blood, urine, and stool samples are also checked for any viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections. Based on the diagnosis results, the doctor will prescribe the treatment for stomach ache.

Treatment for Stomach Ache

Usually, stomach aches caused due to gastrointestinal issues resolve in a few hours or days, even without any medical treatment. You can take over-the-counter drugs for immediate relief. These can include:

  • Antacids and acid reducers

  • Antigas products such as Maalox

  • Antinausea medication

  • Stool softeners for constipation

If stomach ache is due to food poisoning, gastritis, or peptic ulcer, it resolves after the stomach or intestinal lining completely heals. Medical treatments recommended by doctors for the same are as follows:

  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections

  • Acid reducers and acid blockers

  • Pepto-Bismol

  • Electrolyte replacement fluids for vomiting and diarrhoea (to prevent dehydration)

Other treatments for abdominal pain depend on the underlying medical cause of the issue. A chronic condition such as inflammatory bowel syndrome is likely to involve lifestyle changes along with medications, and also surgery. Acute conditions such as bowel obstruction, appendicitis, or gallstones involve hospitalisation and surgery to recover from the pain.

What are the Home Remedies for Stomach Ache?

While severe abdominal pain needs immediate medical attention, mild stomach ache symptoms can be treated at home. Below are a few effective stomach pain home remedies.

  • Bitters and Soda

Your in-house cocktail area is the last place you might think of when looking for stomach ache home remedies. However, many people swear that 5-6 drops of cocktail bitters mixed with a cold glass of tonic, soda, or ginger ale helps relieve the discomfort caused due to stomach ache. These ingredients may even help ease the feeling of nausea in some people.

  • Ginger

Ginger is known to be an all-around cure for several health issues. It is an effective home remedy for treating an upset stomach. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory item that can be consumed in many forms.

  • Chamomile Tea

Sipping on a cup of chamomile tea at least twice a day will ease the discomfort caused due to stomach ache. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and is known to relax stomach muscles, further reducing the pain.

  • Peppermint

Peppermint is a quick solution for nausea and upset stomach as the menthol in it is a natural pain reliever. You can make peppermint tea, sniff some peppermint extract, take mint candies, or chew on its leaves. It helps keep stomach ache at bay and alleviates the feeling of nausea.

  • Heating Pad

Placing a heating pad over your stomach can soothe the pain. The warmth on your abdominal region helps in relieving cramps and reduces nausea. However, please do not leave the heating pad on your abdominal region for too long, as it can damage your skin.

Tips to Prevent Stomach Ache

It is essential to note that severe stomach ache can be a symptom of a life-threatening medical condition. However, mild stomach ache can be prevented from becoming severe by doing the following things:

  • Consume a healthy diet

  • Drink water frequently

  • Exercise daily

  • Eat smaller portions of your meals when suffering from indigestion

Further, you can consult a nutritionist to draft a proper diet routine to prevent yourself from abdominal pain in the future.

Takeaway

Typically, stomach ache resolves in a few hours or a day without any medical attention. However, if your abdominal pain is persistent and getting severe over time, please get immediate medical guidance. Severe stomach ache can be due to underlying medical conditions that can be life-threatening if left untreated.

If you are worried about the cost involved in this entire process, get in touch with your health insurance provider for clarity on the same. Do not delay the diagnosis and treatment for stomach ache as it can be fatal in extreme cases.

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