Stomach pain is a very common symptom, which can have several causes, such as gastritis or excess gas, often accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting or heartburn, for example. Stomach pain can also be caused by consuming too much coffee, alcohol, spicy foods, stress, anxiety, and nervousness.
When the pain persists, you should go to a gastroenterologist as it may be necessary to take acid-inhibiting medication such as Omeprazole or Ranitidine, antiemetic medication such as Metoclopramid e or antispasmodics such as Buscopan. See more in: medication for gastritis.
Main causes stomach pain
Other causes for stomach pain are:
1. Stomach pain and gases
These are important signs of poor digestion, that might be linked to complications such as gastritis, for example. In this case when food reaches the stomach it finds a hostile environment. The H.Pylori bacteria may also be present, making digestion difficult, so food may stay during long hours in the stomach, which generates burping that can be uncomfortable.
2. Stomach pain and diarrhea
These can be symptoms of gastroenteritis, so it is recommended you drink a lot of fluids, like water, saline solution or tea. To try and stimulate appetite you should eat light foods like Maize cornflour biscuits, white rice or fruit, for example. If other symptoms arise, such as fever, chills or frequent vomiting, it is recommended you seek medical help.
3. Stomach pain after eating
If there is suspicion of gastritis, ulcer or reflux, which can also cause the sensation of heartburn after eating or when lying down, you should consult a gastroenterologist. While awaiting the appointment you can raise the head of the bed and avoid fatty foods such as fried foods, beef meat and sausage, or which increase the acidity of the stomach, such as cow's milk, pepper, tomato and corn, for example. Check the symptoms and make the diagnosis in: How to identify the symptoms of gastritis.
4. Stomach pain and vomiting
It usually indicates gastritis or ulcer, but may also arise in other situations as food poisoning and therefore it is important to go to the emergency room in case of recurrent vomiting.
5. Constant and sharp stomach pain
It can be a sign of problems in other organs, such as pancreatitis or cholecystitis, and therefore one should go to the ER, especially when the pain is disabling.
6. Stomach pain after endoscopy
It is normal because during the examination the doctor places a tube in the gastrointestinal tract that may bother the throat and stomach, which may cause discomfort for a few hours.
But any stomach pain that lasts for more than 48 hours should be evaluated by a gastroenterologist to start the appropriate treatment, but to relieve the symptoms, one can take antacid medicines or gastric protectors, for example.
7. Stomach pain from taking anti-inflammatory drugs
After taking anti-inflammatory medication like Ibuprofen it is common to have stomach pain because this type of medication compromises the protective layer of the stomach, leaving its walls more exposed to the action of the acids present in the digestion.
To avoid stomach pain you can take an acid production inhibitor, such as Ranitidine or Omeprazole or an antacid such as Pepsamar, to decrease pain and discomfort. These medications should be taken straight after waking up to obtain the best effect. Also, it is important not to take anti-inflammatory drugs on an empty stomach, it is best to take it after meals or eat a fruit or yogurt, for example.
8. Stomach pain during pregnancy
Stomach pain in pregnancy is a very frequent symptom caused by the presence of stomach gases. In this case it is recommended that the pregnant woman avoid using tight clothes or eating too much at meals. To relieve stomach pain in pregnancy, a good tip is to take lemon balm tea with fennel, for example.
If the stomach pain does not pass after using these strategies, it is important to inform the obstetrician in order to evaluate the possibility of other causes and indicate the ingestion of medication, if necessary.
What to do to alleviate stomach pain
You can relieve stomach pain in various ways, such as:
- Loosen clothing and rest by sitting or reclining in a quiet environment;
- Take a holy thorn tea, which is a great medicinal plant to treat stomach problems;
- Eat a pear or a cooked apple;
- Eat a piece of raw potato because this is a natural antacid, without side effects;
- Put a bag of warm water on the stomach to relieve the pain;
- Drink small sips of cold water, to moisturize and facilitate digestion.
The treatment for stomach pain should also include a light diet, based on salads, fruits and fruit juices such as watermelon, melon or papaya, avoiding eating fatty foods and alcoholic beverages.
However, when stomach pain becomes persistent over the years and if pain is associated with weight loss, vomiting or bloody stools, you should seek a doctor because these symptoms may indicate stomach cancer.
When to go to the doctor
It is advised to go to a gastroenterologist when:
- Pain in the stomach is strong and persistent;
- If you experience vomiting with blood;
- If the stools are black and have a very intense smell.
These signs may indicate bleeding within the digestive system that needs to be investigated and properly treated.