Understanding the Pain in Your Stomach


Here are four health problems related to your stomach and how to best treat them.

1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Symptoms: Cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. For many people with IBS, the stomach is happiest when it is empty.
Triggers: Gas or pressure in your intestine triggered by certain foods, medication, or emotions. Foods such as chocolate may cause constipation or diarrhea, while carbonated beverages and certain fruits/vegetables can lead to bloating and discomfort.
Treating It: To identify food triggers of IBS, trial and error works best, so keep a daily food diary to narrow down the culprits. And probiotics (good bacteria), found in yogurt and dairy products, can decrease the symptoms.

2. Heartburn

Symptoms: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) occurs when acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus.
Triggers: Frequent heartburn, the most common symptom of GERD, is the result of gastric acid backing up into the esophagus. If the lower esophageal sphincter does not close properly, gastric acids can seep back up into the esophagus causing heartburn.
Treating It: The most common culprits include: citrus fruits, garlic/onion, spicy foods, caffeinated beverages, chocolate, and cocoa. Other tips include smoking cessation, keep your head elevated 45 degrees while sleeping, and don’t lie down directly after consuming a meal.

3. Constipation

Symptoms: Generally chronic constipation is a stool frequency of less than three bowel movements per week that lasts several months.
Triggers: One main cause is poor diet – one that focuses on processed foods, sugar, and lacks in fresh vegetables that are good sources of fiber. Other common causes include laxative abuse, hypothyroidism, IBS, and even ignoring the urge to go.
Treating It: The best foods for constipation are the ones rich in insoluble fibers, such as whole grains, corn, oat bran, nuts, flaxseeds, brown rice, peanuts, and fruits/vegetables with edible skin. Moreover, proper hydration is very necessary for normal bowel movement.

4. Gastroenteritis

Symptoms: This is irritation and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Common symptoms include low-grade fever, nausea, and vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, painful cramps or bloating, headaches, and weakness.
Triggers: Viruses, particularly rotavirus, and the bacteria Escherichia Coli and Campylobacter species are the primary causes of gastroenteritis.
Treating It: Treatment, according to experts, is focused on rehydrating, replacing the fluids, electrolytes, water, and salts lost in the stool and vomit.

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