What is stomach pain or discomfort?
It may be seen across different age groups in both genders. Worldwide, there are various nomenclatures used to describe belly pain, frequency, severity, impact of pain and response.
What are the different types of stomach pain?
Stomach pain is usually described based on the location within the stomach and abdomen. The types of stomach pain considering the location of your pain are as follows
- Upper abdomen/belly pain
- Lower belly pain
- Groin pain
- Front part of the belly
What are the common causes of stomach pain?
Whether you've got a mild ache, sharp pain, cramps or abdominal pain, it can have many possible causes. Commonly your stomach may hurt because of the following reasons
- Inflammation of the appendix
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS, stomach pain with disordered defecation)
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD, inflammation of the digestive tract)
- Stomach acid irritates the esophagus
- Gaseous distension
- Food poisoning
- Food allergies
- Stomach ulcer
- Stomach flu (stomach virus)
- Hernia (protrusion of belly organs)
- Diverticulitis (inflammation of the abdominal pouches)
- Small and large bowel/gut obstruction
- Sudden cessation of blood flow in the abdominal lining folds (mesenteric arterial thrombosis/ischemia), especially in older adults
- Inflammation of the pancreas
- Enteric infection (infection causing diarrhea and vomiting with cramping pain)
- Specific food intolerance such as lactose (dairy product) intolerance and carbohydrate/gluten intolerance, especially in celiac disease
- Indigestion or epigastric pain disorder (upper middle belly pain)
- Peptic ulcer (digestive ulcer disease)
- Unrecognized constipation
- Liver congestion/swelling because of
- Crohn’s disease (inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract)
- Intestinal angina (pain worsened by eating)
- Women (with or without pain during their period) may suffer from
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (infection/inflammation of the sex organs)
- Endometriosis (womb tissue growing outside the womb)
- Dysfunctional uterine bleeding (bleeding from the vagina in between periods)
- Cancer of the ovary
- Ruptured ovarian cyst (rupture of fluid sacs in the ovary)
- Ectopic pregnancy (implantation of a fertilized egg outside the womb)
- If you’re a man and have lower belly/groin pain, you may have swelling and infection of the prostate gland.
- Kidney stones (pain radiating from back to front)
How can I prevent stomach pain?
- Avoid specific dietary items that your stomach doesn’t tolerate including dairy products (lactose), wheat, beans and carbohydrates.
- Fiber in the diet should be increased if you have constipation.
- Ingesting probiotics (good bacteria) can be beneficial for your gut in relieving your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms.
Self-medication/self-help under your doctor’s advice
- Take over-the-counter medications for diarrhea, gaseous distention and constipation where appropriate.
- Take antacids and drugs that prolong acid production (proton pump inhibitors [PPIs]) . These are probably inappropriate for treating abdominal cramping and pain.
- Laxatives may cause cramps, but they can reduce pain if you have more severe constipation.
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World Gastroenterology Organisation