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Stomach cramps

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Stomach cramps – we all have experienced it at some time or other due to a varied range of reasons. Sometimes the pain is centred on your abdomen or at other times it might spread towards the chest or the groin.

Symptoms associated with stomach cramps

The intensity of cramping would depend on the underlying cause. It might last for a few minutes to several days and could range from mild to severe or debilitating or could be localized at a particular point.

Some common symptoms associated with stomach cramps are:

  • Loss of appetite – feeling full and bloated
  • Loose motions or hard stool
  • Tenderness in and around abdomen
  • Pain while urination
  • Vomiting,  heartburn, tightness in chest

Causes of stomach cramps

Stomach cramping can occur due to the following reasons:

  • Indigestion, gas, bloating, chronic constipation
  • Stomach infection, food poisoning
  • Kidney stone, gallstone, appendicitis pain
  • Diverticulitis, colitis, Crohn’s disease
  • Urinary tract infection, bladder inflammation
  • Abdominal muscle pull

For women, stomach cramps are very normal during menstruation. Mild cramping can also happen during pregnancy. It is also a symptom of endometriosis, cervical infection, inflammation of pelvic organs and ovarian cysts.

When to see a doctor?

Stomach pain occurring from mild indigestion, periods, constipation, etc. is not something serious. However, if the pain is excruciating, occurs at a specific point then you must consult your doctor. You should also not neglect recurring stomach cramps or if you have experienced muscle pull with physical exertion.

Diagnosis of stomach cramps 

Your doctor will first feel your stomach for pain, pressure and tenderness and then ask you several questions pertaining to the pain. For example, “since when you are sensing the pain”, “how long does it last”, “does it occur after eating” or “does it occur at any particular time of the day”. You should also tell your doctor if you suspect of food poisoning or any other type of infection.

For women- you have to explain details about your menstrual cycle and also tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

After this initial diagnosis, your doctor will order specific diagnostic tests that would reveal the underlying cause of your stomach pain. It could be abdominal ultrasonography, endoscopy, blood tests, urine tests, stool test and hormonal tests.

Treatment of stomach cramps

The treatment is completely dependent on the cause of the underlying pain. Some management strategies are:

Medicines: They may be prescribed to manage GERD symptoms, heal infections in stomach and pelvis, etc. You can also take OTC pain killers to combat the pain. Hormonal pills might also be given to sort out gynaecological issues in women. Small stones in gall bladder and kidneys can also be treated with medicines.

Surgery: If your medical conditions cannot be resolved with medicines, then your doctor will opt for surgery. For example- appendicitis operation.

General home remedies for stomach cramp

  • Eat light and have home cooked meals if you are having stomach infection. Opt for detox foods- vegetable soups, fresh fruit juices and simple recipes.
  • Take compress on your stomach with hot water bag or roll over a bottle filled with warm water. This relieves your from menstrual cramping and abdominal muscle pull.
  • Take rest at home until the pain is managed to avoid any difficult situation at office or any other outdoor place.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: December 11, 2014