Discomfort in the epigastric region can be described in different ways: stomach pain, abdominal pain, gastralgia, etc.
Most of us have stomach pain from time to time, usually due to an upset stomach, a virus or an incompatible food.
Fortunately, stomach complaints are mostly harmless and can be treated at home.
However, in some cases, they can be signs of serious illness and require a doctor’s visit.
The stomach can cause transmission pain in the throat, so those who suffer from neck pain can also consider the stomach as a less common cause. There are numerous diseases that can cause stomach complaints.
The most common causes of stomach pain
Are medications taken instead of paying attention to nutrition? Occasionally, medicines to neutralise stomach acid (antacids) are used, but when heartburn remedies are taken in the morning, noon and evening, reflux oesophagitis (GERD) is thought to be present, a chronic condition in which stomach acid travels from the stomach to the esophagus, usually due to weakness of the lower sphincter that separates the esophagus from the stomach.
Scientific studies show that up to 20% of the Western population suffers from the symptoms of reflux disease.
During pregnancy, the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes, which favors the rise of gastric juices towards the mouth. The first step to health is lifestyle change, including improved nutrition.
Certain foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chocolate, wine, and caffeinated beverages can trigger the symptoms of reflux disease.
To optimize treatment, the doctor might ask the patient to keep an eating diary for two weeks; in this way, it is possible to determine which foods cause particular problems.
A trick to relieve stomach pain: eat high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, except avoid saturated fat.
A Baylor College of Medicine study found that a high-fiber diet (at least 20 grams per day) reduces the likelihood of suffering from symptoms of reflux disease by 20%; people who consumed low saturated fat were even less likely to do so.
Many people have hardening of the diaphragm on the left or right side.
The causes are not known, but certainly diet has some influence, since the diaphragm is connected to the stomach, liver and the other abdominal organs by ligaments.
The diaphragm is the most important muscle of breathing, so problems of the lungs and bronchi (e.g. chronic cough) can also play a role.
- Pressure pain
- gastroesophageal reflux
- Digestive problems
The diagnosis is made by a thorough medical examination, the doctor feels a hardened muscle when palpating.
The treatment is carried out by manual therapy, massages or manipulations of the diaphragm are performed. Possible are, for example, myofascial manipulations, deactivation of trigger points (pressure-sensitive points from which transmitted pain can also emanate) or osteopathic techniques that affect breathing.
Lactose intolerance (lactose intolerance)
One in four people has difficulty digesting lactose; Lactose is milk sugar and is naturally found in dairy products, such as milk, ice cream and soft cheese. If there is a suspicion that gases and flatulence are due to lactose intolerance, dairy products should be avoided for two weeks to see if the symptoms subside.
Still unsure? Check with your doctor about the H2breath test; the patient breathes into a bag after consuming a lactose-containing drink.
A high content of hydrogen indicates lactose intolerance.
But even in this case, dairy products do not have to be completely dispensed with. Yogurt and hard cheese are the easiest way to solve this problem; Yogurt contains enzymes that help digest lactose and hard cheese doesn’t contain much lactose.
Researchers at the University of Purdue believe that the digestive system can be improved in terms of lactose digestion if small amounts of milk are taken several times a day for three to four weeks.
Alternatively, lactose-free milk may be drunk and/or Lactaid tablets taken before consuming milk products; both contain lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose.
Malassimilation of fructose
A Kansas Medical Center university has conducted a study showing that nearly half of patients complain of unexplained gas formation and bloating after consuming 25 grams of fructose (simple sugars found in fruit).
These symptoms have in fact been caused by fructose intolerance, which means the body has difficulty digesting fructose properly. Just like lactose intolerance, this intolerance can be detected by a breath test. Anyone suffering from fructose intolerance should first refrain from fructose-containing foods, such as apple juice.
It is not necessary to avoid fruit in general, but fruit consumption should be reduced, especially fruits with a high fructose content, such as apples and bananas.
An apple contains an average of 8 grams of fructose, a banana almost 6 grams, a small bowl of diced honeydew melon 3 grams and an apricot less than 1 gram. It also makes sense to consume the daily fruit ration in smaller quantities throughout the day; in this way, stomach pain can be prevented.
Chewing gum There are people who chew gum to replace snacks. One may doubt this, but chewing gum is a common cause of stomach pain. “Frequent swallowing of air can produce gases and bloating,” explains Christine Frissora, M.D., a gastroenterologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. In addition, some sugar-free chewing gum contain sweetening sorbitol, even small amounts of it can bloat the abdomen.
Sorbitol allows water to enter the colon, which can lead to bloating and, in larger quantities, diarrhea.
A study published in the journal Gastroenterology found that just 10 grams of sorbitol (the equivalent of a few sugar-free candies) can cause bloating, and 20 grams can cause cramping and diarrhea. sorbitol can be replaced by maltitol, mannitol and xylitol; it is found in sugar-free chewing gum and low-carbohydrate products.
Gastritis summarizes various groups of complaints that have one thing in common: inflammation of the gastric mucosa. Inflammation of gastritis is often the result of infection by Helicobacter pylori; this bacterium is responsible for most stomach ulcers. Factors, such as trauma, regular intake of anti-inflammatories, excessive alcohol consumption, aggravate the symptoms of gastritis. Anxiety and stress can provoke gastritis along with numerous other symptoms.
Nervous tension in this area can provoke symptoms, even if there is no stomach inflammation. Inflammation of the gastric mucosa can occur suddenly (acute gastritis) or take a slow development (chronic gastritis).
The pain occurs mainly on an empty stomach. Sometimes gastritis leads to the formation of gastric and duodenal ulcers and increases the risk of stomach cancer. However, in most cases, gastritis is harmless and shows rapid treatment success.
The therapy depends on the cause of the disease. Acute gastritis caused by medication or alcohol can already be improved by avoiding these substances. Chronic gastritis caused by a Helicobacter infection is treated by eradication of the bacteria.
Most therapies include acid-neutralizing drugs (antacids) to relieve the signs and symptoms and aid stomach healing.
Medicines and alcohol
Some drugs irritate the gastric mucosa, causing pain and heartburn. These include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, cortisone-containing agents (such as prednisone) and alcohol. Other medicines may cause cramps, diarrhoea and constipation.
These include diarrhoea medications (antidiarrheal drugs), laxatives, antibiotics and iron preparations. Even those who do not usually suffer from stomach problems can feel pain with increased alcohol consumption. The stomach pain usually disappears the day after the speed.
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that causes an infection of the stomach.
It is found in about two-thirds of the world’s population. The transmission route is still unclear, conceivable is a transmission through infected water and food.
Helicobacter pylori leads to stomach ulcers and can also cause stomach cancer.
If symptoms of a stomach ulcer become noticeable, a breath test should be performed or blood and stool examined to determine the appearance of H. pylori. The best form of treatment consists of a combination of antibiotics and drugs to neutralize stomach acid (antacids).
The examination must be repeated after treatment to ensure that the infection has disappeared. The following measures can prevent infection by H. pylori:
- Wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet and before eating.
- Only eat properly prepared foods.
- Drink only water from a clean and safe source.
Gastric and duodenal ulcers
Gastric and duodenal ulcers (gastroduodenal peptic ulcert) develop when the digestive juices in the stomach injure the inner wall of the digestive tract. They can form in the inner wall of the stomach or in the duodenum, near the stomach.
A stomach ulcer (ulcer ventriculi) often causes burning or sudden pain between the navel and sternum, which can be relieved with acid-neutralizing drugs. Other complaints include bloating, nausea or vomiting immediately after eating, loss of appetite, weight loss and black-colored stools (digested blood). A visit to the doctor is essential for the diagnosis of a stomach or
duodenal ulcer. Often, medications can be successfully used to treat and relieve symptoms.
In severe cases, there is a stomach or intestinal perforation or the ulcer causes considerable bleeding in the digestive system.
If this happens, surgery may be necessary. As a proven home remedy, herbal or chamomile tea can relieve symptoms.
Gluten intolerance (celiac disease)
In the U.S., about 1 in 133 people have celiac disease, known as gluten intolerance. The consumption of gluten-containing foods (wheat, rye, barley) produces an autoimmune reaction in celiac patients, which leads to the formation of antibodies that attack the intestinal shags.
Intestinal shags are small, hair-like elevations of the small intestine mucosa, which serve to absorb vitamins, minerals and water. Over time, these intestinal shags become damaged, causing abdominal cramps and bloating, and preventing the absorption of nutrients. Celiac disease leads to vitamin and mineral deficiencies and causes anemia and osteoporosis.
There is a strong genetic link: 5 to 15% of children and siblings of celiac patients are affected by this disease.
This disease is mainly found in infants or adults between 30 and 40 years of age.
Although diagnosis can be made by simple detection of antibodies in the blood, celiac disease is often undiagnosed because its symptoms are similar to those of other stomach pain-causing conditions, such as lactose intolerance and irritable stomach syndrome.
There are celiac patients who have suffered terrible pain for years without being able to make a diagnosis; or the doctors assumed that the symptoms were only present in her head or stress-related.
Treatment consists of a diet that avoids certain grains, such as barley, rye and wheat. It is extremely difficult to eat gluten-free; you should consult a nutritionist who will help you choose the right foods.
By changing the diet, stomach pain and symptoms disappear. Gluten-free foods are available in health food stores, but now also in many regular grocery stores and some restaurants.
Poor digestion summarizes certain symptoms, such as generalized pain, bloating, belching, nausea and loss of appetite. For many people, it is quite normal for difficulties with digestion to occur from time to time.
Over-the-counter medications, sodium bicarbonate or avoiding certain foods can help here.
For many people, the stomach pain occurs a few hours after eating (in the evening) when eating certain foods, often after crabs or shrimp. Anyone who suffers from chronic poor digestion should consult a doctor and be examined.
Gastrointestinal inflammation (gastroenteritis)
Gastroenteritis can be caused by bacteria, viruses or toxins and means inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever and weight loss.
Gastroenteritis can disappear on its own over the course of one or two days, but sometimes it persists longer. Those who travel to warm countries or the tropics often suffer from gastrointestinal inflammation and traveler’s diarrhoea because they consume infected foods and drinks.
Especially drinks with ice cubes from tap water are one of the main causes.
Symptoms may initially persist mildly and irregularly for a week or two, and then break out and become quite serious.
Home treatment must prevent the effects of the disease, i.e. abundant hydration to prevent dehydration.
After taking antipyretic drugs (paracetamol) or anti-nausea and vomiting remedies (so-called antiemetics, e.g. Zofran), it is important to follow a gentle diet that does not favor diarrhea, rice, carrots, bananas, etc. are recommended.
Food poisoning occurs when food is contaminated by viruses, bacteria or chemical products. Typical symptoms include mild to moderate pain, cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting.
They can occur within an hour to four days after ingestion of the triggering foods. Other symptoms may include headaches, fever and chills 12 to 48 hours after consumption, indicating viral food poisoning.
The symptoms of chemical food poisoning include sweating, dizziness, excessive salivation, and mental confusion that occurs about 30 minutes after eating contaminated food. Meat poisoning (botulism) is a rare but life-threatening form of bacterial food poisoning that causes speech or vision problems, muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle paralysis.
Most food poisoning can be treated with home remedies. However, if the symptoms of chemical food poisoning or meat poisoning appear, or the symptoms are very pronounced and last more than two days, it is necessary to consult a doctor.
Stomach cancer arises from the growth of abnormal cells that form a tumor in the stomach. Gastric carcinomas usually originate from the glandular cells of the gastric mucosa (adenocarcinomas).
What are the symptoms of stomach cancer? Stomach cancer hardly causes symptoms in early stages. Initial symptoms include:
- Stomach and digestive problems
- Feeling of fullness after eating
- mild nausea
- Burning stomach
Stomach cancer can grow and become very large before it causes further symptoms. In the advanced stage of cancer, the following symptoms appear:
- Severe, persistent stomach pain
- Blood in the stool (black-colored, tarry stool)
- Vomiting, whether or not with blood
- Weight loss
- Pain or feeling of pressure in the stomach after eating
- Fatigue or tiredness, associated with anemia
Stomach cramps are often caused by trapped air and bloating. This common problem can be extremely uncomfortable, but it is easy to treat; the pharmacist may recommend antispasmodics, such as Buscopan or Mebeverin (Duspatal), which are available without a prescription and will relieve the symptoms.
Sudden colic with diarrhea If the stomach cramps have just begun and diarrhea also occurs, the cause is probably an intestinal virus (gastroenteritis).
This means that there is a viral or bacterial infection in the stomach and intestines.
Without treatment, an improvement should occur after a few days. A common cause of gastroenteritis is norovirus.
Stomach cramps and diarrhoea that cause severe malaise (e.g. fever or chills) may be due to a more serious infection, such as food poisoning. The symptoms usually disappear on their own after some time.
If the stomach cramps last longer than a few days, a more protracted illness may be behind it, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
- Stomach cramps and stomach pain
- Using natural remedies to treat gastritis
- Loss of appetite during pregnancy and old age