Nausea and Stomach Aches When to See a Doctor
Both stomach pain and nausea are common ailments in adults and children. They can have a variety of causes, but in most cases, they aren't a serious cause for alarm.
Nausea is not a pleasant feeling in the pit of your stomach that may come before vomiting. It's often described as an uncomfortable sensation of fullness, pressure, or tightness.
On the other hand, stomach pain is a general term used to describe discomfort or pain between your chest and pelvis. It often refers to cramps or dull aches in your stomach area.
Prevalence and Impact of Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain is a common health complaint among many people in the United States. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, 60 to 70 million Americans experience abdominal pain every year. This pain can range from mild and temporary to severe and chronic. For some, abdominal pain may be a minor annoyance. But some individuals, the pain can be debilitating and prevent them from going about their daily activities.
Types of Stomach Pains and Nausea
Stomach pain and nausea both can vary from acute or chronic. Acute abdominal pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts for a short period. It often goes away within a few days or weeks with simple home remedies or over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
Chronic abdominal pain persists for more than three months. It may signify a more severe condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or endometriosis. This condition may require long-term treatment and follow-up with a doctor.
Causes of Acute Stomach Pain and Nausea
There are many potential causes of acute stomach pain and nausea. Some of the most common include:
This results from consuming contaminated food or water. Symptoms typically develop within a few hours to a few days, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
Eating too much can cause stomach pain, bloating, and nausea. These symptoms are often accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea.
When your digestive system is unable to break down food indigestion occurs. Symptoms may include bloating, belching, heartburn, and nausea.
It is caused by the movement of your body when playing, flying, driving, or riding a bike. It can lead to nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.
Pregnancy can cause various gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, heartburn, and stomach pain.
This type of migraine headache causes nausea and stomach pain. It's more common in children but can also occur in adults.
Stress and anxiety can trigger the release of stomach acids, leading to indigestion, heartburn, and nausea.
Causes of Chronic Stomach Pain and Nausea
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS):
IBS is a disorder that affects the large intestines. Abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation are all symptoms related to IBS. Chronic stomach pain and nausea can have different causes, including:
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD):
IBD refers to Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, conditions that cause chronic inflammation in the intestines. The common symptoms are abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhea, and fatigue.
Endometriosis is a painful condition in which the uterus tissue grows outside of the uterus. It can cause pelvic pain, bloating, and nausea.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD):
GERD is when stomach acids back up into the esophagus. It can cause heartburn, nausea, and chest pain.
Is when the stomach lining is inflamed. It can be due to a bacterial infection, heavy alcohol use, or certain medications. It can result in abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
This occurs when something blocks the movement of food through the intestines. It can be caused by a hernia, tumor, or twisted intestine. Symptoms are abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation.
Other Chronic Causes:
When you are sores that form in the stomach or small intestine lining. They can be due to bacterial infections, stress, or certain medications. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, heartburn, and nausea.
Cancer can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. It can cause abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue, and blood.
Some medications, such as NSAIDs and steroids, can cause stomach pain and nausea.
Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and depression can cause chronic pain and nausea.
Remedy for Acute Stomach Pain and Nausea
Acute stomach pain and nausea usually go away with simple home remedies or OTC medications. Some of the most effective treatments include:
Allow your body to heal by getting plenty of rest.
Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, clear liquids, or sports drinks, to prevent dehydration.
Take OTC pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve pain.
Try home remedies to ease symptoms and speed up recovery. These may include drinking ginger tea or taking peppermint oil capsules.
Remedy for Chronic Stomach Pain and Nausea
Chronic stomach pain and nausea may require treatment from a doctor. However, the most effective approach depends on the underlying cause. Some common treatments include:
Medications can treat IBS, IBD, GERD, gastritis, and celiac disease. They may include antibiotics, antispasmodics, and anti-inflammatories.
Therapy can help with chronic pain and nausea related to depression, anxiety, or stress. It can help you learn to cope with pain and manage stress.
Making dietary changes can help prevent celiac disease, IBS, gastritis, and GERD. That may involve avoiding trigger foods or eating a gluten-free diet.
Surgery may be mandatory to treat endometriosis, intestinal obstructions, or cancer.
When to See a Doctor
You should see a doctor if your stomach pain and nausea are severe or last longer than a few days. It is advisable to see a doctor if you have any other symptoms, such as:
Severe pain accompanied by fever
Black, tarry stools
Difficulty swallowing or breathing
Unexplained weight loss
Pain in the arm, chest, and neck
Diarrhea that occurs more than a few days
Inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas
Tenderness in the abdomen when touched