Stomach pain strikes all of us at some point, with varying degrees of discomfort from mild to extreme. While stomach pain can be caused by relatively benign issues, there are also causes that should be addressed medically. Here are some common reasons for stomach upset.
Acid Reflux or Heartburn
Acid reflux, commonly called heartburn, occurs when stomach acids leak into the esophagus. It typically results from the valve at the top of the stomach refusing to close fully. This can be due to excess weight or other medical conditions. If it persists, consult a doctor. If left untreated, it can lead to serious medical issues including esophageal cancer.
This painful condition results from inflammation in the colon. Diverticula, pockets along the intestinal wall, can become inflamed and fill with undigested food or other foreign matter. This leads to abdominal pain and swelling. If you experience persistent pain, you may need surgery. If left untreated, diverticulitis can lead to infection crossing the intestinal wall and reaching the internal organs.
The thyroid gland, located near the larynx in the neck, produces a hormone that controls the speed of digestion. A victim of hyperthyroidism may experience rapid digestion, which can cause a great deal of stomach pain, along with diarrhea. If an individual has its opposite, hypothyroidism, the thyroid produces too little hormone, causing digestion to slow. This can lead to fatigue, constipation – and severe gut pain.
Ulcers In The Intestine
These form farther along the digestive tract than stomach ulcers, of course. Typically these cause pain after a meal, and the pain can be excruciating. If you suspect ulcers, consult your doctor. These can lead to serious problems including internal bleeding if left untreated. They can be treated with medication.
At one time medical practitioners considered stress the driver behind ulcers. Recent research, however, links them to a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori, which can be treated with antibiotics.
Depression isn’t just a mental issue. It impacts the entire body. And it may even trigger irritable bowel syndrome, which leads to stomach pain. The process can work in reverse also. Scientists now suspect that certain types of bacteria that live in the intestinal tract can actually cause depression.
Gallbladder issues and gallstones can produce stomach pain, often after eating a meal containing fat. The pain may start as a band across the top of the stomach that feels like food poisoning, then move into the lower right abdomen just under the rib cage. Some people feel gallbladder pain in their backs or even shoulders, usually on the right side. A mild gallstone attack may only last a few minutes, but if the issue isn’t addressed, it can become excruciatingly painful as the gallstones stuck in the gallbladder grow larger.
There is a broad range of pathogens that can cause food poisoning, from bacteria and viruses to poisonous compounds. The symptoms can range from stomach cramps to diarrhea to vomiting. While food poisoning may be fatal in rare cases, typically symptoms don’t last more than a few days. Foodborne illness can be particularly dangerous in children, so be sure you know how to reduce the chance of food poisoning occurring.
When bacteria invade your appendix, it can become inflamed, causing acute abdominal pain. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, and nausea. So if you suspect appendicitis, consult a doctor immediately. If appendicitis goes untreated, this can lead to a burst appendix, which can be fatal.
While medical professionals have long considered the appendix a vestigial organ, more recent research suggests it may serve a useful purpose. It may actually be a storehouse for gut bacteria – the kind you depend on for a healthy digestive system.
Consult the Hong Kong Gut Health Centre About Stomach Pain
The occasional mildly upset stomach isn’t usually a cause for concern, but if you find yourself experiencing severe or recurring stomach pain, it’s time to see your doctor. In Hong Kong, call (+852) 2523 8044 to make an appointment at our convenient Central location. Our Integrative Practice specializes in gut health through our Hong Kong Gut Health Centre.