Abdominal pain is a common health issue that affects many people on recurring basis and can significantly affect the quality of life. Abdominal pain (also referred to as stomachache, gut or tummy ache or bellyache) may present with a variety of scenarios. The onset may be abrupt or gradual, and the symptoms may resolve without treatment or causes persistent, gnawing discomfort for weeks, and left you wondering “why does my stomach hurt?” It is usually not considered a dangerous problem and can be treated easily at home, but sometimes moderate to severe stomach pain can point to an underlying illness. It is important to identify the cause and seek treatment accordingly.
Causes of Stomach Pain
The typical symptom of indigestion is feeling full after a normal meal and minor pain in the upper part of the abdomen. This is usually caused by overconsumption of certain foods like chocolate, oily and spicy foods or carbonated drinks. There is usually no need to worry, but consult your doctor if you experience these symptoms very often to rule out functional dyspepsia - a kind of stomach injury.
Burps and flatulence are frequently reported when a person is experiencing excessive gas accumulation. They can also feel bloated and pain in the abdomen. The pain can be mistaken for other conditions such as heart problems or appendicitis. The condition can be embarrassing but not difficult to deal with. Visit local chemists and they usually recommend OTC solutions like bucopan and mebeverine.
- Food poisoning
This condition is also known as foodborne illness. It is caused by consumption of contaminated, toxic or spoiled foods. Patients suffering from food poisoning may show no symptoms, or the symptoms may appear as mild abdominal cramps. In some cases, the symptoms aggravate and patients may present with severe dehydration and diarrhea with blood, requiring medical intervention. Food poisoning symptoms can last for up to 10 days but if you are also experiencing signs of infection (such as fever), don't wait and call your doctor right away.
Acute Stomach Pain
If you experience acute pain in a specific area of your tummy and you're thinking why does my stomach hurt, it may be a sign of a serious medical condition that will worsen without treatment. So, consult your doctor at a first go.
- Kidney stones
If you have small stones in your kidney, these crystals can be passed out with the urine. However, larger ones can end up blocking the kidney tubes, causing symptoms such as painful urination, red or brown urine with foul smell, and severe pain under the ribs spreading to the lower abdomen. These stones need to be broken down with the help of a variety of interventions to resolve the pain.
- Stomach ulcer
In the lining of stomach or duodenum, the bleeding of ulcer can lead to acute abdominal discomfort.
Appendix is a pouch that looks like a small finger. The swelling of this rudimentary organ can cause unbearable pain in the right lower part of abdomen, accompanied by nausea and vomiting, abdominal swelling and high temperature between 100 to 101°F (37.8-38.3°C). It requires the removal of appendix via surgical intervention to relieve pain.
This condition is marked by burning sensation and inflammation in the small bowel, manifests as pain in the lower left abdomen, along with nausea and vomiting. It needs to be treated in the hospital with antibiotics.
- Acute cholecystitis
This condition could also be the answer to “why does my stomach hurt”. It is an acute feeling of discomfort and pain due to ongoing inflammation inside the gallbladder that is often caused by gallstones. In most cases, your healthcare providers will recommend removal of the gallbladder to address the pain.
An infection in the stomach or bowel can also cause extreme pain in the abdomen. One other reason could be pulled muscle in the abdomen or an injury.
Long Term Stomach Pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome
This is a disorder that primarily affects your colon and presents with symptoms like cramping, bloating, diarrhea, gas and constipation. These symptoms can last for about 12 weeks or more. The problem is triggered by the use of dairy products, alcohol and high fiber intake. Adjusting the diet can help a lot and the pain is reduced after defecation.
- Inflammatory bowel disease
IBD is broadly categorized used for two major bowel inflammatory conditions: Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Both these problems are chronic and the patients face inflammation of the gut. Ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon, whereas Crohn's disease affects the entire digestive systemfrom mouth to anus. Both of these diseases have common symptoms including swelling and cramps in the stomach, tummy pain and bloody diarrhea.
When to call a Doctor
You should immediately consult a doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms:
- Extreme pain which makes you unable to sit and have to curl for comfort.
- You are experiencing blood in your stool, or if you have developed nausea and vomiting with the pain that won’t go away.
- The skin appears yellow and tender to touch, with swelling of the abdomen.
Tips for Relieving Stomach Pain
So now you have an idea about "why does my stomach hurt?" Let’s look at ways you can deal with stomach pain. The treatment of stomach pain entirely depends on the cause. But if you're sure that minor ailments are causing the stomachache, then you can try some tips below for relief:
- Eat a healthy diet. Unhealthy food is the major cause of an upset stomach. Prolonged stomach problems can also be caused by unhealthy and junk foods. Add fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, dairy items and fermented foods into your diet.
- In case of deep pain, apply some pressure over the stomach using a pillow while you're lying on the bed.
- Stretching not just helps in relaxing body but also increases circulation of the digestive tract.
- Eat light meals frequently in small portions 5-6 times each day. It makes digestion easier and prevents stomach issues.
- If you feel like throwing up, don't hold it back and get rid of the acid in the stomach causing the pain.
- Relax. Sometimes stress, depression and anxiety also could cause stomachache. So de-stress yourself through meditation, music or simply by stretching in candlelight.
- Don't use over-the-counterpain killerssuch as aspirin or ibuprofen, they might cause irritation and worsen the stomach pain.