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Stomach pain is not all that uncommon. In most cases, it is clearly connected to something you either ate (such as with food poisoning), caught (like the stomach flu) or experience routinely (such as gastritis).
At other times, it can seem as though it appears out of the blue, or after taking medication. If this occurs and the symptoms are severe, persistent, or worsening, you need to see a doctor investigate the reason.
Several different adjectives may be used to describe one’s stomach pain—burning, stabbing, aching, and so one—and the discomfort is sometimes associated with other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and excessive gas. This information can be helpful to your doctor when working to make a diagnosis.
The stomach, of course, is its own unique organ. But when people use the term “stomach pain,” much mean pain related to the gastrointestinal tract, not just this one part of it. As such, we do so here.
Typically speaking, perceived stomach pain that happens in the part of the abdomen nearer to the ribs involves the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach, and small intestines. Pain occurring in the lower abdomen tends to be connected to the lower GI tract, which is comprised of the large intestine (colon), rectum, and anus.
When to See a Doctor
Other symptoms that warrant getting medical attention right away include:
- Dizziness and/or feeling faint
- Inability to keep down food or fluids
- Chest pain
- Vomiting up blood or dark-colored flecks
- Having black, maroon, or bloody stools
- Severe and/or persistent constipation
- New-onset pain or swelling around an abdominal hernia site
As you probably expect, the treatment of stomach pain depends on the underlying diagnosis.
Lifestyle Treatment Options
Several lifestyle modifications may help you manage your situation. For example, in the case of celiac disease, a strictly gluten-free diet is paramount to treatment just as restricting lactose (milk products) ingestion is how most people manage lactose intolerance.
Treating GERD may require several lifestyle changes, such as:
- Losing weight if you are overweight or recently gained weight
- Elevating the head of your bed (for example, placing a foam wedge underneath the head of the mattress)
- Avoiding meals two to three hours before going to bed