What’s Causing Your Abdominal Pain and How to Treat It
Abdominal pain, in other terms, is stomachache. Stomachache is simply your stomach throwing tantrums as you clearly weren’t paying attention to it and were not taking care of it. Stomach ache defines the pain and discomfort between the chest and the pelvis area. However, most of the abdominal pains are mind and can be taken care of by home remedies such as indigestion, gassiness, or muscle strain.
In this article, Dr Amit Javed, a leading GI, Minimal Access & Bariatric surgeon, explains the causes of abdominal pain, how one can treat them, and how to differentiate between the common stomach ache and severe stomach ache.
What is abdominal pain?
Abdominal pain is an internal pain caused due to discomfort and unwanted disturbances inside the abdomen. Several factors can be behind the pain caused, ranging from mild stomach pain to severe pain requiring immediate medical assistance. Digestive disturbances are considered one of the most commonly abdominal pain found in most people.
Abdominal pain is commonly referred to as a stomachache by many individuals. The abdomen, on the other hand, comprises a number of essential organs, muscles, blood vessels, and connective tissues, including:
- Large& small intestines
Causes of Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain is one of the most common complaints found in patients and there can be several reasons behind this, below mentioned are some common causes:
1. Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
The stomach pain or stomach flu is typically accompanied by nausea, fatigue, vomiting, and loose, fluid-filled stools that occur considerably sooner and more frequently than normal after eating in this situation. Bacteria or any intestinal virus causes stomach infections, and their symptoms normally go away after some days. However, an infection that persists for more than 2-3 days indicates a severe health condition and may need immediate medical assistance to help eliminate an inflammatory disorder.
Common symptoms are –
- Severe body weakness
- Feeling fatigued
- Stomach pain/cramps
- A feeling of excessive bloating /gassiness
Gas is produced in the stomach when the bacteria or other microorganisms in the small intestines that break foods are intolerant and are not supporting the intestines. A person might feel a sharp pain or discomfort caused by increased pressure of gas in the intestine, which can also induce abdominal pain, farts or belching, and mild pain or discomfort in th chest. There are certain foods that are known to make you feel gassy or bloated like
- Beans, broccoli
- Dairy products (people who are lactose intolerant)
- Fizzy and caffeinated drinks
- Beer and sugary alcohol
- Chewing gum and har to chew candies
- Garlic and onions
- Fatty foods
3. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an intestinal disorder that causes severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and constipation. A person with IBS has a constant urge to visit the washrooms every 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the severity of the disorder. The reason for IBS is unknown, and it can only be managed long term but cannot be cured.
A proper diagnosis based on the symptoms is required to know the possible reason for IBS. Abdominal pain is common in IBS patients, and it is often relieved after a bowel movement. IBS symptoms include bloating, gas, nausea, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. Changing one’s diet, lifestyle, and medications can help some people manage their symptoms.
4. Acid Reflux
Stomach acids usually go backwards into the throat (oesophagus), and this acid reflux is generally accompanied by a burning sensation, mild pain and discomfort in the abdomen and throat. In an individual/patient, acid reflux can also cause bloating and cramping in the abdomen. In addition, acid reflux causes a burning sensation in the lower chest area, which usually occurs after eating and is common and riskier for patients addicted to smoking and overweight or are obese.
The most prevalent treatment that an exert will suggest is drug therapy, which is available both on prescription and over the counter (OTC).
When too much waste gets collected in the bowel, it adds pressure on the colon, making it difficult for th individual to pass the bowels comfortably, thereby causing pain. There can be several reasons behind constipation, such as lack of fibre intake, consumption of low fluid in the diet. Constipation and abdominal pain also impact the physical activities of an individual. A doctor should treat any blockage in the intestinal tract if it persists and is causing discomfort.
6. Bowel Obstruction
When the stomach pain starts to feel like it comes and goes in waves, it clearly indicates bowel obstruction. In some cases, there can be partial or total obstruction of the bowel. Bloating and abdominal pain are symptoms of bowel blockages. The discomfort, which could be cramping or colicky, comes in waves and temporarily goes away. However, it’s possible that you won’t be able to discharge your bowel in a proper manner(pass gas/wind). You may experience diarrhoea if the blockage is only partial. Depending on the severity of the abdominal pain, the doctor will recommend if surgery is needed.
When there is inflammation and severe discomfort in the stomach lining, you feel irritated and bloated, thereby indicating gastritis. Symptoms that can help diagnose gastritis include nausea, vomiting, gas, and bloating. Why this inflammation and pain occurs can have multiple reasons, some common causes are injury, infection, excessive use of pain pills and excessive alcohol.
Treatment and Home Remedies for Abdominal Pain
Below are some of the most common and popular home remedies for treating abdominal pain
Ginger is a common remedy for treating upset stomach and indigestion. Ginger contains a chemical called gingerols which can help treat stomach contractions. Ginger is known to reduce the feeling of vomiting, and nausea and also treats pain and discomfort caused due to loose motions. Ginger can be consumed in the form of tea.
2. Carom Seeds
Carom seeds commonly called ajwain in households is one of the most simple remedies for treating stomach cramps and discomfort. It helps to soothe the inflammation and treats indigestion, acidity, and acid reflux.
3. Avoid smoking and drinking
Smoking and drinking can cause heat in your stomach thereby leading to inflammation. Smoking can irritate the throat and stomach which can make your stomach tissues sore. Alcohol is not easy to digest thereby damaging the liver and stomach lining. People who are prone to stomach pain should avoid or limit their smoking and drinking.
4. Lemon juice/ Lemon water
Mixing lemon juice with water along with a pinch of baking soda can help relieve digestive issues. Lemon juice can help relieve sudden feelings of gas and indigestion.
5. Aloe vera
Aloe vera consumed in the form of juice can help reduce excess acid in the stomach, which supports the stomach in improving the digestion process and also helps to balance digestive bacteria.
Home remedies act as an immediate treatment plan for abdominal pain as it helps to relieve heartburn, nausea, vomiting, flatulence and belching.
How Can I Prevent Abdominal Pain?
We all are aware that prevention is better than cure. So, it is important to prevent your stomach from being normal to continuous rumbling. Here are some good and common tips to follow:-
- Avoid eating more than your stomach can handle
- A good intake of fluids, especially water or fresh cold-pressed juice
- Avoid eating too much before bedtime
- Wash your hands properly before eating
- Eat foods rich in fibre such as fruits and vegetables
Though the majority of cases of stomach discomfort are not serious, and the symptoms usually go away within hours to days with simple home remedies like rest and fluids. But if the pain persists, then visiting a healthcare expert would be the best solution. Dr Amit Javed, a leading GI, Minimal Access & Bariatric surgeon, is one of the best medical experts who could help lessen and control the symptoms in case there is acute or chronic abdominal discomfort that lasts more than 2 days.
Q1. How do I know if abdominal pain is serious?
Suppose the pain persists for more than 2-3 days even after trying over-the-counter medicines and home remedies. In that case, it clearly indicates that the abdominal pain is serious and immediate medical assistance is needed.
Q2. What kind of infection causes abdominal pain?
Gastroenteritis, urinary tract infection, kidney stones and pneumonia are some of the most common causes of abdominal pain.
Q3. What causes lower abdominal pain in females?
One of the most common causes of lower abdominal pain in females is due to mensuration, and this pain is what they experience every month. Ovulation or a gastrointestinal condition like food intolerance can also cause pelvic pain.