Intestinal pain is usually caused by diarrhea, which occurs due to increased bowel activity and bowel movements. This problem is usually caused by infections with viruses or bacteria, but can also be caused by intestinal irritation provoked by alcoholic drinks, food intolerances and some medications, such as antibiotics.
This pain may be associated with other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or fever and usually lasts between 3 and 7 days and can be treated at home with rest, hydration and symptom relief medication such as Buscopan.
The main causes of intestinal pain are:
1. Intestinal infections
Infections caused by viruses, some bacteria, worms and amoebas cause intestinal inflammation and usually cause intestinal pain that is accompanied by many symptoms. These infections usually happen after traveling, due to exposure to new microorganisms, or by eating poorly maintained foods from restaurants and snack bars.
- What you feel like: Intestinal pain is accompanied by diarrhea with soft or liquid stools, nausea, vomiting, and low fever. Viral infections are the most common causes for stomach pain and usually cures on its own in about 3 to 5 days. Some bacteria, such as salmonella and shigella, cause more serious infections. In addition to pain, blood or mucus stools may occur, more than 10 bowel movements a day, fever above 38.5 ° C, and apathy.
See more about intestinal pain caused by a viral infection.
2. Use of some medication
Laxative remedies and some medication, such as antibiotics, prokinetic agent, anti-inflammatory drugs and metformin, for example, can speed up bowel movements or decrease fluid absorption, facilitating the onset of pain and diarrhea.
- What it feels like: Mild intestinal pain, which appears just before bowel movements, and improves after passing the effect of the remedy. When intestinal pain is caused by the use of medication it is not usually accompanied by other symptoms.
3. Food allergy or intolerance
Food allergies like to milk protein, egg, gluten or lactose intolerance, for example, cause abdominal pain and gas production because they are irritate the intestine, which makes it difficult to absorb food. Consumption of alcoholic beverages can also cause diarrhea in some people because alcohol may have an irritating action on the gut.
- What it feels like: Intestinal pain in these cases arises after food intake and can be mild to moderate, depending on the severity of the allergy of each person. It usually improves within 48 hours after ingestion, and may be accompanied by nausea and excess gas.
4. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Diseases that cause inflammation of the intestine, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, for example, can produce intense inflammation of this organ, provoking lesions that make it difficult for it to work well.
- What it feels like: In the initial stages, these diseases produce intestinal pain, diarrhea and excess gas, but the most serious cases can be responsible for weight loss, anemia, bleeding and mucus production in the stool.
5. Stress and anxiety
These changes in the psychological state increase the amount of adrenaline and cortisol in the blood, accelerating the activity of the intestine, as well as reducing the absorption capacity of food in the intestine, which can produce pain and diarrhea.
- What it feels like: Intestinal pain that happens in cases of intense stress or fear, which is difficult to control but that improves after the person calms down or after the stressful situation has been resolved.
6. Intestinal cancer
Intestinal cancer in the gut can cause stomach ache by altering the intestinal rhythm or by causing deformities on its wall.
- What it feels like: The symptoms depend on the location and severity of the cancer, but in most cases there is intestinal pain accompanied by bleeding in the stool, and alternations between constipation and diarrhea.
In addition, some people may experience intestinal pain without being sick or having bowel problems, such as after eating or waking up, and this is related to natural reflexes that induce the urge to defecate.
When to go to the doctor
Intestinal pain may be accompanied by symptoms that indicate the severity of the problem, which are usually caused due to infections by bacteria, amoebas and stronger inflammatory diseases. The symptoms are:
- Diarrhea that persists for more than 5 days;
- Fever above 38.5 ° C;
- Presence of bleeding;
- More than 10 bowel movements per day.
In these cases, you should seek a doctor to assess the need for antibiotics, such as bactrim or ciprofloxacin, for example, and hydration in the vein.
How to treat intestinal pain
Generally, mild cases of intestinal pain resolve naturally in about 5 days. All that is needed is rest and oral hydration done with water or saline solution, made at home or bought ready at a pharmacy. The symptoms of pain and nausea can be controlled with medication like painkillers, antispasmodics and antiemetics such as Dipyrone, Buscopan and Plasil.
Saline solution should be drunk for the duration of diarrhea, in the amount of 1 cup after each bowel movement. See saline solution recipes to do at home.
In bacterial infection cases, it may be necessary to use antibiotics prescribed by a general practitioner when there are infections with more severe or persistent symptoms. In cases of very severe diarrhea that cause dehydration, it may also be necessary to hydrate the vein.
The treatment of intestinal pain caused by diseases, intolerances or food allergies, is guided by a general practitioner or gastroenterologist, according to each type of disease.
Find out more about natural ways to stop diarrhea fast.
Intestinal pain in children
In these cases, intestinal pain is usually caused by food poisoning or contact with viruses, and should be treated by the pediatrician, with medication to relieve cramps, such as Dipyrone and Buscopan, and hydration with homemade saline.
Intestinal pain is severe when accompanied by drowsiness, apathy, high fever, a lot of thirst, presence of very liquid stools and many bowel movements a day. When this happens the child should be taken to an emergency room as soon as possible for hydration in the vein and for a pediatrician to find the cause so as to make the correct diagnosis.