Stomach Pain: Causes, Treatments, Prevention


What is stomach pain?

Stomach pain, or gastric pain, is considered abdominal pain . Very common, abdominal pain can come from the stomach but also from other organs of the digestive system, the genital system, the cardiovascular system and the renal system.

How to spot stomach pain?

When pains in the stomach, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish stomach upset. Stomach pain is characterized by pain in the epigastrium, that is, localized pain in the upper abdomen . Nevertheless, other organs, including the large intestine and pancreas, are also present in the epigastric region, making the diagnosis of stomach pain difficult.

What are the different stomach pains?

Stomach upset can manifest itself in different ways. The gastric pain can in particular be in the form:

  • Stomach cramps, or abdominal cramps
  • Spasms in the stomach , or gastric spasms
  • Heartburn , or heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Stomach bloating, or abdominal bloating.

Stomach ache, what are the causes of the pain?

Pain in the stomach, is it a digestive disorder?

Stomach upset is often due to digestive disorders. Among these, we often distinguish:

  • The functional digestive disorders : Also called functional dyspepsia, these disorders are characterized by the absence of lesions in the digestive system. They are mainly caused by poor digestion. This is for example the case during abdominal bloating.
  • Non functional digestive disorders: They affect the wall of the digestive system. This is particularly the case during gastro-oesophageal reflux , more commonly known as acid reflux or heartburn. A reflux of the acidic contents of the stomach to the esophagus causes inflammation with the appearance of a burning sensation.

Gastric pain, is it a disease of the stomach?

In some cases, stomach pain may be a sign of a stomach condition . This essential organ of the digestive system can be affected by:

  • A gastro-enteritis : It corresponds to an inflammation of the digestive system of infectious origin. The germ responsible for this infection may be a virus or bacteria. The development of these pathogens causes an inflammatory reaction that can be manifested by upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • A gastritis : It is an inflammation that occurs in the lining of the stomach. Gastritis usually manifests as heartburn.
  • A gastric ulcer : It is due to a deep lesion of the stomach. An ulcer of the stomach results in severe pain in the stomach.
  • A stomach cancer : Malignant tumors can develop in the stomach. This tumor is manifested by various symptoms including nausea and heartburn.

Gastric pain, what is the risk of complication?

In most cases, the upset stomach is benign, that is to say without danger to health. Low or medium intensity, these pains are transient and fade in a few hours.

Nevertheless, stomach pain can sometimes be more serious. Some signs may alert and require medical advice. This is particularly the case when:

  • Severe pain in the stomach
  • Persistent stomach pain
  • Frequent pains in the stomach
  • Gastric pain associated with other symptoms such as vomiting, severe headache or general fatigue.

Stomach pain, how to treat or prevent it?

Who to consult in case of stomach pain?

Physical examination. If the intensity, duration and frequency of upset stomachs increase, it is strongly recommended to approach a general practitioner. A clinical examination makes it possible to make a first diagnosis.

Additional tests. Depending on the diagnosis of the general practitioner, he may request further medical examinations and further medical advice. A consultation with a gastroenterologist can then be recommended.

How to treat stomach pain?

Different treatments exist to relieve and remove stomach pain. The appropriate treatment depends on the type of pain and the origin identified. For more information, consult the fact sheets on the different causes of stomach pain.

Medical treatment:

A health professional may prescribe certain medications such as:

  • antispasmodics during cramps or spasms in the stomach
  • analgesics, or analgesics , in case of severe pain in the stomach
  • antisecretory symptoms during gastric burns
  • antihistamines to reduce gastric acidity
  • proton pump inhibitors to inhibit acid production
  • antibiotics in case of infection.

Complementary approaches

Stomach pain can also be relieved by herbal medicine, homeopathy or aromatherapy.

Stomach surgery

In the most severe cases, surgery on the stomach may be necessary.

How to prevent stomach upset?

Some precautionary measures can prevent the occurrence of gastric pain:

  • Adopt a healthy and balanced diet;
  • Avoid the consumption of acidic or irritating foods;
  • Limit meals too rich, too fat, too sweet or too spicy;
  • Eat slowly while taking time to chew food
  • Limit stressors
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle.