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8 of the most common types of stomach pain

Most people will experience some type of stomach pain in their lifetime.

Stomach pain, usually called abdominal pain by doctors, can occur anywhere from the chest to the groin. It may be a sharp pain that shoots out of your abdomen or a dull ache that throbs in one place. Abdominal pain can be caused by something as minor as gas or constipation or by more serious conditions like inflammation of the colon and stomach ulcers.

The good news is that, most of the time, abdominal pain isn’t a big deal. Even if you have a more chronic condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or a food intolerance, symptoms can usually be significantly improved with certain diet and lifestyle changes.

“Most abdominal pain is caused by mild, non-life-threatening issues, and most of them resolve on their own,” Badr Al Bawardya Yale Medicine gastroenterologist, told HuffPost.

Here are the most common types of stomach pain:

stomach pain from what or how you eat

Certain foods, such as fiber-rich fruits and foods high in carbohydratescan be difficult for some people to digest and lead to gas and bloating. Eat too much and eating too quickly can also lead to indigestion and discomfort.

Regularly taking certain medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can also cause stomach inflammation that can cause pain, said Dr Lisa GanjhuClinical Associate Professor of Medicine in the Divisions of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at NYU Langone Medical Center.


Constipation, or infrequent bowel movements, is one of the main causes of abdominal discomfort. It is caused by a range of health issues, including medications, lack of exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes. Being constipated doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dealing with some sort of underlying condition, but nonetheless, it can be painful to deal with.

“If they notice they are in pain and they haven’t emptied their bowels in a while or have incomplete bowels, then they need to take a laxative or an enema to unplug,” Ganjhu said.

irritable bowel syndrome

IBS is one of the most common causes of abdominal pain and affects 10-15% of the population. To get a diagnosis of IBS, patients need abdominal pain, irregular bowel habits (such as diarrhea or constipation), and pain that gets better or worse with bowel movements, Al Bawardy explained.

IBS pain can be mild or severe and can range from stomach cramps to stomach swelling and excessive gas. With IBS, the colon muscle contracts too frequently and triggers cramping and pain, usually in the lower half of the abdomen.

IBS can be managed by changing what you eat and drink, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. Certain medications, such as fiber supplements, laxatives, and pain relievers, can also relieve symptoms.

Olga Rolenko via Getty Images

Stomach pain from IBS can be debilitating and unpredictable.

Pain caused by the way food moves through your stomach

Another condition, known as gastroparesis, occurs when the stomach has trouble emptying food and water. These contents accumulate in the stomach and cause bloating, pain, nausea and a feeling of fullness after a few bites of food.

“The stomach doesn’t relax and contracts when it should relax,” Ganjhu said.

Gastroparesis is more common in older people, as well as people with anxiety and those taking antidepressants, Ganjhu said. Though there is no remedy for gastroparesis, dietary changes and medications can provide relief.

Small intestine bacterial overgrowth

This condition, also known as SIBO, occurs when there is an abnormal increase in the amount of bacteria in the small intestine. SIBO can be caused by stress, travel, antibiotic use, alcohol consumption, and certain medications like a proton pump inhibitor. All of these things can disrupt the microbiome, according to Ganjhu.

SIBO frequently causes painful bloating when air is trapped in the small intestine or colon, as well as an uncomfortable feeling of fullness and nausea. It is diagnosed by a breath test or culture of fluid from the small intestine and can be treated with antibiotics and nutritional support.

Food intolerances

Although food allergies don’t usually cause pain, food intolerances can contribute to abdominal pain, irritating gas, and bloating within hours of eating the food. With food intolerancesthe digestive system lacks certain enzymes that must necessarily break down certain foods.

The most common food intolerances include lactose (milk), histamine (chemicals found naturally in cheese, pineapple, bananas, avocado and chocolate) and gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley).


Gallstones, or pebble-like lumps of hardened bile, are fairly common, affecting about 10-15% of the US population. This condition also tends to be more common in women, pregnant women, and obese people.

Although gallstones are asymptomatic in most people, some may experience severe pain in the upper right part of their abdomen. It can take a few minutes or a few hours.

This pain can really vary from patient to patient — “sometimes it’s cramping, sometimes it’s associated with nausea, sometimes it’s associated with fatty meals,” Ganjhu said. In some cases, gallstones can be transmitted or dissolve with medication, however, some people may require surgery.

Periods and pelvic pain

While almost everyone with a uterus experiences some type of period or pelvic pain in their lifetime, certain types of pelvic pain may indicate that there is a more serious underlying health problem.

Mild to moderate cramps are considered a normal side effect of menstruation, but if the cramps last more than a few days, worsen into a sharp, throbbing, or throbbing sensation, or affect your ability to function, you may have a gynecological condition. such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, fibroids or adenomyosis. These conditions are often overlooked and dismissed as typical period pain, so it’s crucial to stand up for yourself and find a doctor who will listen to you and help you find a diagnosis in order to begin treatment.

How to deal with stomach pain

To relieve abdominal pain, you must first get a correct diagnosis, because your treatment plan – whether it’s adjusting your diet, taking medication or having surgery – will really depend on the cause of your stomach pain. pain.

If the pain persists, it’s worth making an appointment with a gastroenterologist who can perform tests to identify the root of your pain. Al Bawardy also recommended keeping a diet diary to see if certain foods or activities might be contributing to your abdominal pain. He also suggested partnering with a dietician, so if you notice any patterns, you can work with a professional to change your diet in a healthy, balanced way.

If you experience pain and also develop bloody stools or black, tarry stools, weight loss, or persistent nausea and vomiting, you’ll want to see a health care provider right away. They could indicate that you may have a more serious condition such as a stomach ulcer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or colon cancer.

“These are what we call red alarm symptoms – if pain is associated with them, they should seek medical attention,” Al Bawardy said.