You don’t know what causes your stomach ache? Here are 5 reasons why you might have stomach pain.
Why do I have a stomach ache?
Your digestive system is one of the most vital systems in your body. It takes food on an amazing journey as soon as your meal passes your lips. First, they pass from the esophagus to the stomach, where the acids begin to break them down so your body can get the most out of them. After a few hours of digestion, the food then moves into the small intestine where most of the nutrients are absorbed. After that, they pass through the large intestine before taking the plunge. Even though it is a complex process, digestion is designed to happen in such a natural way that we rarely notice how busy our bodies are working. Sometimes, however, things go wrong, resulting in unpleasant abdominal pain. Here are some reasons, from the simplest to the most serious, why your belly can make you suffer.
1) Heartburn or heartburn
Heartburn, one of the most common digestive conditions, is described as a burning sensation behind the breastbone, causing radiating discomfort rising towards the mouth. They can also take the form of a cramp, bloating, or a throbbing sensation. Heartburn occurs when a stomach sphincter (a muscle controlled by the nervous system) does not close properly, allowing stomach acid to seep into the wrong areas of the intestinal tract. For many people, heartburn can be exacerbated by large meals, spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine. While pain can be relieved with an antacid, Adam Prinsen, a naturopath based in Peterborough, Ontario, says that removing gastric acid may not be the best solution in the long run.
“The stomach produces acid for one reason: to digest the proteins in the stomach. If you do not have enough, you risk compromising your digestion. And that could make the problem worse. Since the sphincters are affected by stress, Mr. Prinsen recommends that the first thing to do is to calm down. “When you are stressed, the digestive system does not work properly because the body is in a state of combat or flight. So all the blood goes to the muscles rather than the digestive system. And since people are often in a chronic state of stress, the digestive system stops working completely. That’s why the key to dealing with heartburn can be as simple as slowing down.
2) irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Although the causes of IBS are vague, it is one of the most common conditions of the lower colon, particularly in women under the age of 40. According to Dr. Robert Enns, gastroenterologist and professor of clinical medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital at the University of British Columbia, IBS is found in the intestines that work too fast or too slow, or sometimes just unpleasantly. “No one really knows the cause,” he says. While Dr. Enns may prescribe effective drugs to treat IBS, he especially recommends that patients change their lifestyle: first, by managing their stress, then by avoiding things like caffeine and foods high in saturated fat . Dr. Enns says it is difficult to prescribe a treatment for IBS that works for everyone because it is associated with many different symptoms. However, he recommends regular tests to detect food allergies that can trigger a negative chain reaction in the body. He points out that the problem can sometimes be linked to a malfunction of the liver, resulting from repression of anger, frustration, resentment or excessive consumption of alcohol.
3) stomach ulcer (or peptic ulcer)
Ulcers tend to get better after eating. According to Dr. Enns, ulcers can be caused by anti-inflammatory drugs that are taken frequently to combat arthritis, headaches, and premenstrual syndromes. A bacterium, helicobacter pylori, can also be the cause of certain stomach ulcers since it is known to disturb the layer of mucus that protects the stomach and small intestine. Although it is now known that stress does not directly cause peptic ulcers, uncontrolled anxiety can make it worse. Adam Prinsen notes that people who have a personality trait of type A aggression and those who tend to worry are more prone to suffer from peptic ulcers. If you think an ulcer is the cause of your stomach pain, see a healthcare professional for a diagnosis using a simple blood test. Doctors may prescribe an antibiotic or medication that helps protect the lining. Adam Prinsen recommends powdered marshmallow root as a natural remedy because, he says, it simulates the mucus the body should produce naturally.
4) ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), usually affects the colon, which results in bloody diarrhea. “It’s like rubbing the lower part of the colon with sandpaper, causing a trail of redness. It starts to ooze and can cause diarrhea and bleeding of varying severity. People who have ulcerative colitis tend to have diarrhea overnight. If you’re used to having diarrhea overnight, it’s a sign that something serious is going on, especially if there is blood in the stool or weight loss, “said Dr. Enns. Ulcerative colitis should be treated with medication.
5) celiac disease
This autoimmune disease, primarily an allergy to gluten (which is commonly found in wheat), often manifests as diarrhea and bloating. Diarrhea is really the most common condition. The best way to treat celiac disease, which can be diagnosed with a blood test, is to follow a gluten-free diet. “Some people may not have celiac disease, but they may find themselves sensitive to gluten,” adds Dr. Enns, “so they can actually feel better when they don’t eat a lot of wheat or gluten. However, if you’re not allergic to it, eliminating gluten from your diet could be bad for your health. Consult your doctor, naturopath, or registered dietitian before making major changes to your eating habits.