You know that awful feeling that your stomach is twisting into a knot and you just feel like balling up on the floor like an armadillo? Read on to learn more about this sensation.
What is Abdominal Pain?
Abdominal pain, or more commonly known as stomachache, is one of the most common symptoms that children or adults experience. Abdominal pain is a discomfort that can come in the form of aches, cramps and uncomfortable sensations in the belly region.
Are there Different Types of Abdominal Pain?
Abdominal pain can feel different for everyone. It can feel sharp and crampy, or dull and consistent.¹ The duration of the pain can also vary for different individuals.
Acute abdominal pain: Pain that lasts from hours to days²
Chronic abdominal pain: Pain that is continuous or intermittent for long periods (months to years)²
What Causes Abdominal Pain?
Abdominal pain can be caused by many different conditions, with some of the common causes including:³
Stomach Flu (Viral or bacterial infection of digestive system)
Bloating (Excessive gas in digestive tract)
Other conditions that may cause abdominal pain are:³
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Food intolerance e.g. lactose or gluten intolerance
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
What are the symptoms of Abdominal Pain?
As the name implies, abdominal pain presents as general discomfort in the abdominal region but there can be other associated symptoms such as:²
Burping and belching
Bloating and flatulence
Lack of appetite
You should seek help if you experience:⁴'⁵
Severe pain that lasts for hours or comes and goes for long periods of time
Vomiting that does not stop
Weight loss or decreased appetite
Bloody or dark-coloured, tarry stools
Pain or difficulty with swallowing
Pain when urinating
High fever (>38.5 °C)
What to Do if You have Abdominal Pain?
There are medicines available at the pharmacy to help alleviate stomach pain depending on the root cause. For example, anti-spasmodics such as hyoscine butylbromide can help with cramps while proton-pump inhibitors or H2-antagonists can alleviate hyperacidity conditions.
Dietary changes can help a lot too. Avoid food triggers that you know of, such as lactose, gluten or FODMAP (foods that contain fermentable sugars). Other triggers include high-fat foods, caffeine and foods that increase gas (beans, onions, brussels sprouts).5 It may also be good to eat smaller, more frequent meals.
You can also take probiotics to help maintain a healthy digestive system. Probiotics are what people call ‘good bacteria’ which help to defend the body from bad bacteria to help with digestive issues.⁵'⁶
Stress can sometimes trigger or worsen abdominal pain. It may be beneficial to learn relaxation techniques or engage in hobbies you enjoy.⁵
You may also want to avoid certain medicines that may trigger abdominal pain such as ibuprofen.⁵ However, do not stop taking important medications unless you have sought advice from your doctor.
Abdominal pain can have many different causes and sometimes even your healthcare professionals will not know the root cause unless in-depth tests are run.
Abdominal pain can feel different for each individual. However, if you feel that your symptoms are severe or debilitating, please consult your doctor.
There are tips you can follow to help reduce or prevent abdominal pain and it does not have to involve medicines. For example, probiotics promote a healthy digestive microflora, which helps to reduce certain digestive issues that can lead to abdominal pain.⁶
Patient education: Severe abdominal pain (The Basics). In: UpToDate, Post, TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2021
Penner RM et al. Evaluation of the adult with abdominal pain. In: UpToDate, Post, TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2021
Neuman MI. Causes of acute abdominal pain in children and adolescents. In: UpToDate, Post, TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2021
Longstreth GF. Patient education: Upset stomach (functional dyspepsia) in adults (Beyond the Basics). In: UpToDate, Post, TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2021
Chacko MR et al. Patient education: Chronic abdominal pain in children and adolescents (Beyond the Basics). In: UpToDate, Post, TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2021
Butel M-J. Probiotics, gut microbiota and health. Médecine et Maladies Infectieuses. 2014;44(1):1-8.
Disclaimer: The article content is intended for informational or educational purposes only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals. The disclaimer also provides that no warranties are given in relation to the medical information supplied in the article, and that no liability will accrue to Miraco Nutripharm Pte Ltd or any affiliated authors in the event that a user suffers loss as a result of reliance upon the information.