Stomach ache is the term used to describe cramps or a dull ache in the abdomen. Usually, stomach ache is short lived and not a cause for concern. Stomach pain that is severe is more likely to be cause for concern, especially if it occurs unexpectedly and suddenly, in which case it should be treated as a medical emergency.
Whether stomach pain is mild, sharp or felt as cramps, the pain can have various different causes. Some of the most common causes of stomach ache are described below.
Also called dyspepsia, indigestion refers to a full and uncomfortable feeling in the tummy after eating. It may be accompanied by a burning sensation in the upper part of the stomach. Indigestion may be a sign of an underlying issue such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gall bladder disease or ulcers and treatment will depend on what the cause is.
Indigestion is a common problem but certain things can mean people are more prone to it. Some further causes include:
Some medications that may lead to indigestion include:
Some lifestyle factors that may lead to indigestion include:
Constipation refers to difficult bowel movements or bowel movements that occur less frequently than usual. Constipation is not usually serious. Bowel movements vary between individuals, with some people finding it is normal for them to happen three times a day while others may only have them twice a week. Generally, no bowel movements for more than three days is too long and leads to feces hardening and becoming difficult to pass. Some causes of constipation include the following:
Gastroenteritis is a condition where the stomach and intestines become irritated and inflamed, usually as a result of bacterial or viral infection. Pain in the stomach is usually accompanied by diarrhoea and vomiting and people may also have a fever and headache. Gastroenteritis can be spread in many way, including the following:
Gastroenteritis is most commonly caused by a virus, usually norovirus or rotavirus. Norovirus is the most common cause of severe gastroenteritis in the US and rotavirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in young children and infants. Gastroenteritis can also be triggered by campylobacter bacteria and salmonella, which are usually spread as a result of undercooking poultry or eggs.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a collection of symptoms that occur together including stomach pain, cramping, bloating constipation and diarrhea. The condition can cause intestinal damage and have a significant effect on a person’s life. The cause of IBS is unknown, but suggested triggers include an overly sensitive immune system or colon. Bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract can cause post infectious IBS.
Food poisoning occurs as a result of eating toxic, contaminated or spoiled food, which leads to vomiting, and diarrhea. Food poisoning is a common problem, with one in six individuals in the US experiencing it every year.
Usually food poisoning is triggered by one of the following three factors: