Causes of Stomach Pain
Stomach pain can have many causes and can often be a sign of an underlying digestive problem. There can be a number of reasons why your stomach is hurting, such as a virus, diet, or food intolerance. Stomach noises can also be a symptom of a medical condition.
This article will discuss the causes of stomach pain and the associated stomach noises:
Gastrointestinal infections are a common cause of stomach pain. These infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites, and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms can vary depending on the type of infection, but may include nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea and abdominal pain. In some cases fever or blood in the stool may be present.
In most cases, gastrointestinal infections will clear up on their own within a few days or a week without any treatment; however, some cases may require antibiotics to help fight the infection. It is important to drink plenty of fluids and rest when dealing with gastrointestinal infections to help speed up recovery.
Food Intolerance or Allergy
Food intolerance or allergy occurs when a certain food causes an unpleasant reaction. Common triggers include dairy, wheat, shellfish and nuts. Symptoms are varied and can range from digestive discomfort to anaphylaxis, a severe reaction that can close off your airways and require medical attention.
Signs of food intolerance or allergy include:
- Crampy abdominal pain relieved upon passing gas or having a bowel movement
- Bloating and flatulence after eating
Food intolerances may be dietary related, caused by problems with digestion, absorption or lack of enzymes needed to break down certain foods. Other possible causes of food-related allergies include contact with airborne allergens such as pollens and molds; medications; chemicals; insect stings; pet dander; latex in rubber gloves; scented laundry detergents. Subtle changes in diet and lifestyle habits may help manage food intolerances and allergies.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux, is a condition in which stomach acid frequently travels back up the esophagus. This can cause pain, difficulty swallowing, and damage to the esophagus if left untreated. Common causes of GERD are eating large meals too quickly, consuming foods high in fat or chocolate, drinking aggressively carbonated sodas or citrus fruits and alcohol.
With GERD, symptoms may include nausea, bloating, or a sour taste in your mouth. You may feel bloated or notice a gurgling noise in your stomach after eating certain foods. GERD can also cause a chest pain that may radiate to other areas such as the arm and neck. These symptoms are caused by the irritation of stomach acid traveling upward towards the throat and esophagus.
To diagnose GERD your doctor will likely ask about medical history and perform tests such as an endoscopy or pH monitoring to help identify the underlying issue causing the gastric distress. Treatment plan for those suffering with GERD include:
- Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, limiting caffeine intake and avoiding large meals before bedtime;
- Medications that reduce acid production such as antacids or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like Prilosec; and
- Occasionally surgery may be needed if lifestyle modifications are not enough to control symptoms.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that affects the intestines and can lead to abdominal pain, bloating, gas, constipation and/or diarrhea. IBS may be triggered by food sensitivity or allergies, stress, or changes in your routine. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can come and go over time.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown but is thought to be linked to how your digestive system functions. Factors that may contribute to its development include:
- An overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
- Deficiencies in digestive enzymes.
- Imbalance of hormones that control digestion.
- Inflammation in the gut.
- Poor motility which is the movement of food through the intestines.
- Changes in gut bacteria from chronic use of antibiotics or poor diet.
Treatment for IBS usually focuses on dietary changes such as avoiding foods that trigger symptoms, eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, avoiding processed foods with additives, eating more fiber-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, limiting caffeine intake, reducing or eliminating sugar intake (especially artificial sweeteners), drinking plenty of water and maintaining a regular exercise regimen. Your doctor may also recommend medications used to manage IBS symptoms such as antispasmodics or low-dose antidepressants. Stress relief strategies such as yoga or meditation can also help reduce symptoms.
Symptoms of Stomach Pain
Stomach pain can range from mild to severe, and it can be caused by a number of things. Common symptoms of stomach pain include bloating, cramping, gassiness, nausea, and vomiting. Additionally, your stomach may make noises, such as growling or gurgling, from your intestines contracting and pushing out gas.
It is important to recognize the symptoms of stomach pain and see a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.
Abdominal pain is a common phenomenon that affects people of all ages. It can be caused by a variety of factors such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, digestive issues, psychosomatic causes and even environmental factors. Abdominal discomfort can range from mild pain to severe abdominal cramping and is usually characterized by dull or sharp pains located in the area between the chest and the pelvic region.
Abdominal pain may be accompanied by other symptoms such as bloating, nausea, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea. The area in which the abdominal discomfort is felt can also vary and can span from the upper right abdomen to lower left abdomen. Depending on what is causing the abdominal pain, it may resolve in anywhere from a few hours to several days or even weeks.
It is important to identify what could be causing your abdominal discomfort so you can take proper steps toward treatment and relief. Common causes that may result in abdominal pains include:
- Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Gallbladder disease or gallstones
- Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel diseases)
- Food intolerance/allergy
- Stomach ulcers
- Appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix).
Depending on what might be causing your symptoms should help give you an idea as to whether or not professional medical help may be required if home remedies aren’t proving effective at helping ease your symptoms.
Bloating is a common symptom of stomach pain and is usually caused by excess gas in the digestive system. It can cause your stomach to feel tight and full. Other symptoms of bloating include abdominal pain, excessive belching and flatulence, an uneasy sensation in the abdomen, and sometimes nausea.
Bloating can be caused by a variety of factors such as food allergies, stress, certain medications, eating too much at one time, or any other disruption to the natural balance of bacteria in the digestive tract. Usually mild lifestyle changes are enough to address this type of discomfort but it may become chronic if left untreated.
Fortunately there are some simple things you can do to reduce bloating such as:
- avoiding gas-producing foods like beans, Brussels sprouts and carbonated beverages;
- drinking plenty of fluids;
- exercising regularly;
- eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly;
- avoiding overeating;
- using over-the-counter antacids if needed;
- getting plenty of rest;
- managing stress through meditation or yoga; or
- taking probiotics or other dietary supplements specifically designed for digestive health.
If nothing helps then you should speak with your doctor about possible medical treatments for the underlying cause.
Nausea can be a symptom of many stomach-related issues, including pain. It may cause a feeling of discomfort and an urge to vomit. Other common symptoms of stomach pain can include abdominal bloating, belching, gas, indigestion, heartburn, and a feeling of strenuous fullness after eating. Additionally, other signs may include loss of appetite or accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
If the nausea is accompanied with abdominal pain that persists for hours or days, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider to determine the cause and receive appropriate treatment. Common causes of stomachaches and nausea can stem from:
- Food poisoning
- Inflammation or irritation in the stomach lining (gastritis)
- Infection in the digestive tract (gastroenteritis)
- Indigestion due to certain foods or drinks like fatty dairy products or caffeine containing beverages (milk shakes or coffee)
- Exposure to some medications such as drugs containing aspirin or ibuprofen
- Irregular eating habits such as skipping meals on multiple occasions etc.
- Food allergies/intolerances to specific ingredients/items in one’s diet plan like lactose intolerance etc.
- Physical exertion which might involve lifting heavy objects resulting in strained abdominal muscles leading to nausea and gastric reflux (chronic condition related with acid buildup).
Diarrhea is a common symptom of stomach pain and can be accompanied by cramps and increased gas. You may also experience abdominal swelling, nausea, or poor appetite. Diarrhea can range from a watery consistency to loose or mushy stool and may contain visible blood, though it is usually painless.
Generally, an overgrowth of bacteria or parasites in the digestive system can cause diarrhea along with stomach pain and noises. However, abdominal pain associated with diarrhea can also indicate more serious conditions such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diverticulitis and Crohn’s disease that require medical attention.
When it comes to diagnosing the source of your stomach pain and noises, there are a variety of potential causes. It is important to understand what could be causing your symptoms so that you can get the proper treatment.
In this heading, we will discuss the different diagnoses that can be made in order to determine the underlying cause of your stomach discomfort and noises:
A physical exam is an important part of the process for making an accurate diagnosis. During the physical exam, your doctor will inspect the parts of your body relevant to your complaint, take vital signs such as your temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, and may also use special techniques such as auscultation (listening to your chest or abdomen with a stethoscope).
Your doctor will check for any swellings, areas of tenderness or discomfort, lumps or bumps that may indicate an underlying problem. They may also observe your posture and mobility as well as using specific tests such as percussion (tapping on various parts of your body) to assess for fluid build-up around organs.
In some cases, further tests may be recommended depending on the information obtained during the physical exam. This could include
- lab tests
suggestions before making a definitive diagnosis.
Imaging tests can help a doctor diagnose a wide variety of medical conditions. Imaging tests use x-rays, sound waves, or magnetic fields to create pictures of the inside of your body. Depending on what type of test you have and what the doctor is trying to diagnose, you may need one or more imaging tests.
Common imaging tests include X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, ultrasound, and positron emission tomography (PET). Each test has its own benefits and risks and is used to diagnose different types of medical conditions.
- X-ray: An X-ray is used to create images of your internal organs such as your lungs, heart and digestive system. The X-ray machine sends a small amount of radiation through the body which reflects off bones onto the film to produce an image on the film.
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: A CT scan uses special equipment to create a series of cross–sectional images or “slices” of your body’s internal organs and structures that are combined with computer technology into 3D images. The radiation exposure associated with CT scans is higher than with x-rays but they are often more useful for detecting subtle changes in structures that are not visible on an x-ray.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI scan uses advanced magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of organ tissues including blood vessels, tendons, muscles and ligaments much like a CT scan but without any radiation exposure. MRI scans provide very detailed anatomy views useful in diagnosing many diseases such as tumors, herniated discs in the spine as well as soft tissue abnormalities like tears in ligaments or tendons.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to gain information about internal organs such as gallbladder or kidneys without damaging them in any way. Ultrasounds require no radiation exposure but may have limited accuracy compared to other imaging methods for certain conditions like cancerous tumors which may be missed by this method due to their location or size limitations.
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET): A PET scan utilizes radioactive tracers for imaging metabolic activity inside cells within an organ system so that doctors can detect abnormal cells such as cancerous tumors much earlier than using other methods because they emit more intense signals that are picked up by the scanner machine allowing them to reveal diseases before they show up on standard x-rays or MRIs scans thus providing earlier detection and treatment options.
An endoscopy is an examination using a long, thin tube attached to a tiny camera. It’s used to examine the digestive tract, from the tongue to the bottom of the small intestine. During an endoscopy, your doctor may also take tissue samples (biopsy) and check for any structural issues or problems with digestion. If necessary, they may insert tools through the endoscope in order to treat or repair any abnormalities or challenges.
These tools could include:
- Forceps: forceps are used to get a better view of the organs by enlarging and retracting them
- Injection needles: injection needles are used to deliver medication directly into areas of inflammation or tumor growth
- Snare loops: snare loops help grab and remove tissue samples
- Electrocautery needles: electrocautery needles use heat energy to stop bleeding in parts of the digestive tract that are hard to reach
Endoscopies can take some time, but you should be able to go home after about 2 hours. Afterwards, it’s important for your doctor discuss with you what they found during your procedure, as well as what kind of aftercare and follow up may be necessary.
Blood tests are one of the many methods used by a doctor to diagnose stomach discomfort. Blood tests help to evaluate different body functions and processes through assessment of blood samples. The results from the blood test may provide insight into underlying causes of digestive issues, such as infections caused by bacteria or viruses, slow digestion due to the presence of chronic illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or food sensitivities that cause discomfort.
Common tests that are used to evaluate gastrointestinal health include:
- Full blood counts (FBC)
- Biochemical tests
- Markers for inflammation such as C-reactive protein (CRP)
Further testing via endoscopy or imaging studies may be required depending on the results of these tests.
Stomach pain and noise can be caused by a variety of different things such as indigestion, gas, food allergies, or even parasites. Depending on the cause of the stomach pain and noise, the treatment can vary. In some cases, over the counter antacids and other medications are needed. In other cases, antibiotics may be necessary.
Let’s take a look at the different treatments that can be used to address stomach pain and noise:
Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Diet and lifestyle changes may help alleviate symptoms of stomach discomfort and improve digestion. These may include avoiding triggering foods, eating smaller meals more often, drinking sufficient water, reducing stress, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.
Trigger foods may vary from person to person, but common culprits for an upset stomach are spicy food, caffeine, fatty or greasy food, mint and carbonated drinks. Eating smaller meals more often can help maintain an even blood sugar level and reduce stress on the digestive system. Drinking adequate water is important for proper digestion as well as hydration; generally 8-10 glasses of fluid such as water or non-caffeinated tea per day are recommended.
To reduce stress on the digestive system it’s important to manage stressful feelings with relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises or mindfulness activities such as yoga or meditation. You should also make sure you are getting enough sleep; adults should aim for 7-9 hours per night in a dark and quiet environment to ensure proper restful slumber that is necessary for optimal digestive health. Lastly engaging in moderate activity such as walking most days of the week can improve cardiovascular health while also increasing muscle strength which can aid digestion over time.
Medications may be prescribed to help manage the symptoms of an upset stomach. Your doctor may recommend antiemetics, which are medications designed to reduce nausea and vomiting. They can also reduce bloating and abdominal discomfort. Antacids can sometimes be used to neutralize excess acid that may be contributing to your discomfort. Depending on what is causing your symptoms, your doctor may also recommend taking medication such as antibiotics or laxatives.
Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes such as avoiding spicy foods and limiting the amount of alcohol you drink to help improve the symptoms of an upset stomach. Eating smaller meals more frequently during the day and drinking plenty of fluids can keep your stomach from becoming too full or overly acidic, reducing digestive irritation and discomfort. Adding probiotics to your diet can also help restore balance in your gut bacteria, promoting optimal digestion.
Surgery may be recommended for patients who suffer from more severe stomach problems. This could include conditions such as abdominal hernia, gastrointestinal tract obstructions, or repeated ulcers in the stomach. Depending on the severity of the condition and its underlying cause, surgery may be necessary to remove or repair a damaged area in the digestive tract.
Surgery may also be performed to close off sections of the stomach to prevent further acid reflux or GERD symptoms. Common procedures can either involve making small incisions through which a laparoscope is used to visualize and treat any damaged tissue, or making larger incisions to allow for direct surgical access.
Potential complications from surgery can include infection, reaction to the anesthesia used during surgery, and increased scar tissue in and around the affected area of the digestive tract.
Eating healthy and taking care of your body can go a long way in keeping your stomach from feeling uncomfortable and making noises. It’s important to pay attention to eating habits, consuming a balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water. Taking time to rest and manage stress can also have a positive effect on digestive health.
Here are some tips to keep in mind to help prevent stomach pain and noises:
- Pay attention to eating habits.
- Consume a balanced diet.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Take time to rest and manage stress.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet is essential to ensure that your digestive system works properly, and can help reduce episodes of stomach pain and discomfort. Eating a balanced diet means selecting an array of nutritious, calorie-controlled foods from each food group every day. This includes plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean sources of protein such as lean cuts of meat, seafood and legumes (beans, peas and lentils), low-fat dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, healthy fats such as olive oil or nuts, seeds and avocados.
It is also important to drink lots of fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated. Water is recommended but you may also drink juice or milk if desired. Avoid eating too much saturated fat or sugars as these can be difficult for the body to digest and cause extra strain on the digestive system. Additionally, try to find a balance in your diet between carbohydrates (starches), proteins and fats in order to support proper digestion without overloading it with any particular nutrient.
Avoid Trigger Foods
The foods and beverages you consume can have a major impact on the amount of discomfort and bloating you experience. Certain trigger foods may be harder to digest and cause gas, discomfort, and other digestive issues. Therefore, it’s essential to identify and avoid specific potentially problematic foods that may trigger pain or make symptoms worse.
Foods known to trigger digestive distress in some people include:
- Spicy foods
- High-fat, fried, or greasy foods
- Carbonated beverages
- Dairy products (in some cases)
- Cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)
- Artificial sweeteners containing sugar alcohols (e.g., sorbitol, mannitol)
- Concentrates such as juice or tea mixes
It’s important to note that these are potential triggers for everyone – different individuals will react differently to certain types of food depending on their health conditions. If you notice that certain types of food worsen your symptoms, avoid eating them whenever possible.
When it comes to preventing the discomfort and pain caused by stomach issues, regular exercise is key. Exercise helps to reduce stress levels, which in turn can help soothe an upset stomach. In addition, exercising can encourage good gut health as it helps to stimulate digestion.
Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic activity five days each week and include strength training – such as using resistance bands or bodyweight exercises – two days per week. Taking time for stretching and relaxation during your workout may also be beneficial for relieving tension in your abdominal area.