Why do I have "stomach pain"?

I am sure you have been doubled with stomach pain at some stage of your life. Not a pleasant experience, you will agree...

Stomach pain, or pain in the abdominal area (belly/tummy) can be caused by conditions affecting a variety of organs. These organs include the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, gallbladder and pancreas. It can also be caused by organs close to the abdominal cavity, for example the lungs, kidneys, ovaries or uterus. This is then called referred pain.

Pain in the abdomen can be chronic and longstanding, or very acute. It can be serious with major consequences. This calls for the attention of a physician. It can also be of a minor significance, which is more often the case.

So, keeping this in mind, how are you to know what the cause of stomach pain is, or more precisely, what the POSSIBLE causes are?

This list will help you to get to the bottom, so to speak, of your stomach pain problem!

1. Constipation: If you haven't had a bowel movement for a while, if it hurts to go to the bathroom or your bowel movements are hard, you are probably constipated.

2. Diarrhea: It is often caused by an infection, sometimes called the "stomach flu." Doctors call this type of diarrhea/infection gastroenteritis. You will have runny, watery bowel movements, you may also feel sick to your stomach, and throw up. Please stay near a bathroom!

3. An infection somewhere else in your body: A sore throat, pneumonia, an ear infection or a cough can sometimes cause an upset tummy. Severe pain can be caused by a urinary tract infection or a blocked intestine. Infection by bacteria or a parasite, heartburn, irritable bowel disease or inflammatory bowel disease can also cause pain in the abdominal area.

4. Food: Some people get abdominal pain because they ate too much of certain food, ate spicy or greasy foods, ate food that has gone bad or ate something they are allergic to. The pain is the body's way of telling you that your stomach and intestines are having a tough time breaking down or digesting this food. For example, some people have lactose intolerance, which means they have difficulty digesting lactose, a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy foods.

5. Appendicitis: If the pain starts at your belly button and then moves to the lower right side of your abdomen, it might be appendicitis. Fever or vomiting, along with pain that gets worse and worse and a loss of appetite, can also be signs of appendicitis.

6. Stress: Many people (like me!) have a "nervous stomach" when they are worried or experiencing stress.

7. Overeating: Simply eating too much of everything can cause discomfort and pain.

8. Ulcers: A very serious medical condition, where the stomach forms ulcers (sores) in the lining of the stomach. These ulcers will burn like you are aflame inside, and needs IMMEDIATE medical attention, for they can start bleeding internally.

9. Gallstones: Another very serious medical condition, where the gall bladder tube is blocked by hard stones, causing terrible pain in the abdominal area. This condition also calls for the care of a physician, and some tests to establish a course of action, which will most probably be an operation to remove the stones.

Did you recognize your "stomach pain" in one of these possible scenarios?

What then should you do about these problems? And how can you prevent them happening in the first place?

For the minor, short-term aches and pains, some helpful advice:

1. Don't overeat – it is not worth it to be so uncomfortable!

2. Eat foods rich in fibre, such as fruits and vegetables, so your bowel movements are regular and easy to pass.

3. Wash your hands before eating, to keep the bugs and baddies away...

4. Don't eat right before bedtime, eat early in the evening, so that the food has enough time to be digested before retiring.

5. Get lots of sleep so your body doesn't get run down, and stress gets the better of you.

But... what about the serious problems? Believe it or not, the very same advice applies! If the above preventative measures are taken, they will keep away most of the major health problems related to the stomach and other digestive organs.

It is all about a change of lifestyle and mindset. Try it out for yourself, and see the results. You will be amazed!

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