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Stomach Pain: Causes, Types and Prevention

What is stomach pain or discomfort?

Stomach pain and discomfort may be due to a variety of causes.

Sometimes, you may have pain/discomfort in a particular part of your belly or all over the belly for a short or long period of time.

You may also experience troubling symptoms such as bloating, belching and nausea or heartburn, diarrhea or constipation along with cramps. 

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.

Your stomach pain could be continuous or intermittent, with or without a relationship to eating, defecation or menses. The pain may affect your everyday digestion (hunger or bowel habits).

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
    • Stomach acid irritates the esophagus lining (gastroesophageal reflux disorder [GERD])
    • Stomach inflammation
    • Stomach ulcer
    • Inflammation of the bile sac 
    • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Lower belly pain
    • Left-sided: Diverticulitis (inflammation of the abdominal pouches) 
    • Right lower abdominal pain 
      • Crohn’s disease (inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract)
      • Inflammation of the appendix
  • Groin pain
    • Period pain
    • Abnormal fluid sac formation in the ovary
    • Pelvic inflammatory disease (inflammation of the pelvic organs)
    • Endometriosis (inflammation of the womb lining)
    • Cystitis (inflammation of the urine pouch)
  • Front part of the belly
    • Abdominal cutaneous nerve entrapment syndrome: A nerve supplying the belly becomes trapped in a tissue causing pain all over the belly.

How can I prevent stomach pain?

Dietary changes

  • 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.

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2020

References

Medscape Medical Reference

World Gastroenterology Organisation

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