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Stomach Cramps: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Dec 08, 2021

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Why do stomach cramps?

Stomach cramps are an inconvenience caused by pain or irritation over the coating of the stomach. There can be various reasons and conditions that can cause stomach cramps. That underlying cause isn’t always serious.

It could range from gas to abnormal growth, infection, menstruation, pregnancy and intestinal disorders. Sometimes infection from the throat and blood can enter the digestive tract and cause stomach cramps. The result could be diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

What are the symptoms of stomach cramps?

The common signs of stomach cramps are:

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Bloating

Are stomach cramps a sign of pregnancy?

Stomach cramps are sometimes an early sign of pregnancy. The pain is the uterine cramps, the reason for this is the growth of the uterus. This pain is normal and expected in a healthy pregnancy.

Are stomach cramps a symptom of coronavirus?

Stomach cramps are not a symptom of coronavirus. Stomach cramps could most commonly be because of a digestive issue such as indigestion, gas, bloating, etc. However, if the pain doesn’t subside with time, there will be an occurrence of other symptoms as well. These symptoms can help with the diagnosis of the cause of stomach cramps.

How long should Stomach Cramps last?

If you are having abdominal discomfort that lasts for more than 48 hours then it is time to consult the physician. There are common signs that can tell you when to seek medical help immediately. What are those signs? Let’s talk about them. If:

  • You are feeling sudden, sharp, and severe pain in your abdomen.
  • You are unable to move your bowels.
  • You find your abdomen to be rigid, and firm to touch.
  • Your chest, neck, or shoulders start paining.
  • You are feeling feverish.
  • You have bloody diarrhea.
  • You’re facing difficulty in breathing.

How do stomach cramps feel?

Stomach cramps is an inconvenience caused by sudden pain or irritation in the stomach. Here are the various conditions when you experience stomach cramps and know how stomach cramps feel:

Stomach cramps during pregnancy

Stomach cramps during pregnancy are normal. It usually occurs because of the stretching of the uterus walls to accommodate the fetus. It feels similar to a period and will be relieved with rest, passing gas, changing position.

Stomach cramps at night

Stomach pain is a common symptom of many underlying diseases. The reason for stomach cramps at night could be mild or severe:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Acid reflux
  • Ulcers

Sudden onset of pain at night could be because of:

  • Cardiac event
  • Food poisoning
  • Viral gastroenteritis

If stomach cramps keep recurring at night, keep a record of at what time the pain starts, for how long the pain lasts, and the before and after events of pain. This will help in the diagnosis of the cause of stomach cramps.

Stomach cramps after eating

Stomach pain after eating could be because of any reason. It could be because of gas, flu, food poisoning, bloating, constipation, acidity. Hence, keep track of your stomach cramps for the diagnosis.

Stomach cramps while running

Stomach cramps, strain, and nausea in the stomach after running could be because of poor hydration. Hydrating before and during running is essential, especially in the long run. However, drinking excess water can also cause cramps and digestive irritation. The prevention is slowly making a habit of drinking water. Before and during a long run, electrolyte-infused beverages can be consumed.

Stomach cramps in early pregnancy

Stomach cramps in early pregnancy are normal. It is caused because of the widening of the womb, hormones constipation, ligament stretching as the bump grows. It feels similar to period pain.

Stomach cramps before period

Stomach cramps in case of periods usually start 1-3 days before the menstruation begins. This is called Secondary Dysmenorrhea. The pain is similar to period pain.

Stomach cramps during periods

Pain during the period is because of the lining of the uterus formed by prostaglandins. Prostaglandins cause muscle contractions and cramps are similar to labor pain. The contractions stop the blood flow to the endometrium.

What causes stomach cramps?

Whether the level of pain is mild or severe, stomach cramps can have many causes. It could be indigestion, menstruation, bloating, constipation, flu, food poisoning, etc. Some causes of stomach cramps are:

  • Food poisoning
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Food allergy
  • UTI
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Abdominal muscle pull

Serious causes of stomach cramps are:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease Ovarian cancer or cysts
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Cholecystitis
  • Appendicitis
  • Bowel blockage or obstruction
  • Diverticulitis
Summary: Stomach cramps are caused by strain in the abdominal muscles because of an unhealthy lifestyle or an underlying disorder. The conditions are mostly treatable at home and avoidable with a few life changes.

How Stomach Cramps are diagnosed?

Stomach cramps are usually linked with the pain triggered in the abdominal area. In this, pain is generally perceived in the abdominal area including the stomach, liver, pancreas, small intestine, and gallbladder. The symptoms associated with stomach cramps are:

  • Bacterial infection.
  • Food poisoning.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Indigestion.
  • Low tolerance for lactose.
  • Tumors.
  • Viral infections.
  • Pregnancy issues.
  • Gas.

How to treat stomach cramps?

The stomach aches that are caused by muscular strains, dehydration, or gastrointestinal distress can be treated at home. However, the severe case of stomach aches and other conditions require proper medical treatment. The treatment would be similar to the following or the combination:

Medications, for example, H2 blockers are a class of medicines that work by limiting the amount of corrosion delivered by the stomach. At the point when a H2 receptor blocker consumes the active ingredients contained inside this medication, it goes to specific regions of the stomach cells.

These blockers restrain the corrosive discharging cells in the stomach from responding to histamine. H2 blockers keep peptic ulcers from showing up once more. More often than not, the H2 blockers are immediately consumed by the body to give quick alleviation to the feeble states of peptic ulcer.

In situations where the ulcer has begun to drain completing an endoscopy test can control the bleeding. For patients who don't demonstrate any positive outcomes even subsequent to taking medications or after doing endoscopy, surgery may be the only option left. These methods incorporate vagotmay (cutting of the vagus nerve) and semi gastrectomy (fractional evacuation of a piece of the stomach).

Who is eligible for the treatment?

If you are noticing the following symptoms during stomach cramps then you need to take proper medical treatment for it.

  • Acute pain in your abdominal area lasting for more than 1 day.
  • When you are suffering from pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Pain accompanied by diarrhea or constipation.
  • Chronic pain in the upper right side of the abdominal area.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Stomach discomfort is usually innocuous. Overeating, gas, or indigestion are the culprits. The level of stress you are undertaking can also create discomfort in the stomach. In such cases, you don’t have to worry a lot. They can be treated at home.

How to prevent Stomach Cramps?

Stomach cramps generally refer to the contractions that happen in your abdominal muscles. It is subjected to the part of your body that has been affected badly. Normally, stomach cramps are harmless. You can even prevent it at home. These are some home remedial measures to curb stomach cramps:

  • By using heat pads, one can prevent stomach spasms. This will relax your abdominal muscles.
  • Massaging the stomach area can give you great relief.
  • Chamomile tea is another best option to try. It calms down the upset stomach in a few minutes.
  • Dehydration is one of the major causes associated with stomach cramps. In that case, you can give your body some boost with electrolytes.
  • Antacids can help in preventing bloating and gas.
  • Take some rest from your daily exercise routine.
  • Go for medications only when required. Whatever medicines you are taking, consult a physician first.

Can Stomach Cramps go away on its own?

Normally, abdominal pain goes away on its own without surgery. But if you are finding your condition worrisome, then it is the time you need to seek a doctor’s help. Persistent pain can be a major problem.

How to relieve stomach cramps?

The following implementations can help in relieving stomach cramps:

  • Heat: Heat relaxes the stomach cramps that are particularly caused by muscular strain and period.
  • Massage: Massaging the stomach relieves the pressure, moves stool, relaxes muscles, and reduces bloating. Massage is done in a circular motion with an oil.
  • Electrolyte: Electrolytes are useful when the cramps are because of dehydration. Drinking electrolytes will help restore the body fluid. However, electrolytes must be taken in moderation, especially in the case of kidney failure. It may rise to a cautious level in the body.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile eases the cramps caused by an upset stomach like acidity, indigestion, gas, bloating. Chamomile tea has anti-inflammatory properties that unwind the muscles and reduce cramps.
  • Rest: Stomach cramps caused by exercise, muscular strains can be relieved by rest.
  • Antacid: Antacids are taken for the crampons caused by gastric issues. It will provide instant relief from gas, bloating, nausea, cramps.

Are there any side effects?

The side effects that are commonly associated with H2 blockers are usually mild. These are diarrhea, trouble sleeping, dryness of the mouth, constipation and headaches, ringing sensation in the ears and many more.

Severe side effects include trouble breathing, wheezing, agitation, burning skin and vision issues. Endoscopy is an otherwise safe procedure but complications may have the chance of including bleeding, infection, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting and problems of the gastrointestinal tract.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Post-treatment guidelines for stomach cramps include taking your medication as prescribed by your doctor on a regular basis and on time. Keep a check if you are taking any anti-inflammatory drugs or pain killers by mistake as that may aggravate the chances of heartburn.

You need to exercise regularly but make sure to avoid exercises that are stressful. Do ensure to keep a tab on your diet. Avoid alcohol, greasy or fried foods, spicy foods, carbonated drinks, and other citrus fruits or their juices. Keep yourself hydrated at all times by drinking water and other oral hydration solutions.

How long does it take to recover?

Depending on the seriousness of your case the recovery period of your treatment can range from a week to 4 weeks. If your stomach cramps are mainly due to indigestion you can also get better in a day provided you take the required medicine on time.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Medications as prescribed by the doctor for treating stomach cramps can range from something as low as Rs.50 to as high as Rs. 700. The price of an endoscopy test could cost you Rs. 1500 and a biopsy test could cost you Rs. 250 - Rs. 500 on an average.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

There is no treatment that will permanently cure the problem of stomach cramps. The only way to keep your stomach cramps at bay is by avoiding spicy, greasy, dairy, fried foods, and foods which are rich in sugar. Eat meals small in portion and chew them well before swallowing. Do not stay on an empty stomach for a long time.

How to cure stomach cramps?

Stomach cramps at home can be relieved by simple natural remedies such as:

  • Ginger: Chewing ginger or having a ginger beverage will help with stomach cramps. Ginger alleviates stomach cramps, bloating, and stimulates the body enzyme into action.
  • Peppermint: Peppermint is antispasmodic that relieves stomach cramps. It activates the anti-pain receptors and soothes pain. Peppermint can be taken in tea beverages or the form of capsules.
  • Heating pad: the warmth will relax the strained abdominal muscles and relieve the pain with rest.

Besides these remedies, other methods of relieving stomach cramps are:

  • Taking over-the-counter medicines
  • Antibiotics for the cramps caused by bacteria
  • Antispasmodic medication for IBS

If there is no relief from the remedies mentioned above and have the following symptoms, it is best to visit a doctor:

  • Blood in bowel
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain along with stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

Should I go to urgent care for Stomach Cramps?

If your pain is severe and unmanageable, it’s time to see a doctor. Observe yourself for 24-48 hours, still, if you are not feeling better then you might need urgent medical help.

What to eat in Stomach Cramps?

There are various foods that are potent in preventing stomach cramps:

  • Ginger tea is a good option to avoid nausea and vomiting that usually persists in stomach cramps.
  • Chamomile tea is also good for healing your upset stomach.
  • Peppermint is ideal if you are facing bowel movement-related issues.
  • Licorice is highly potent in curing indigestion.
  • Flax seeds are known to treat constipation and stomach pain.

What not to eat in Stomach Cramps?

  • Avoid dairy foods like milk, cheese, ice-creams, etc. to prevent stomach cramps.
  • Fried food is another big no during stomach pain.
  • Carbonated drinks or Sodas can worsen your stomach cramps. So don’t consume them.
  • Do you know our digestive system takes long hours to digest spicy food? Avoid eating spicy food items if you are suffering from stomach pain.
  • Avoid anything that releases acid like tomatoes, spicy food, etc.

What can I drink for Stomach Cramps?

To get away with Stomach Cramps, you can take some cocktail bitters mixed with soda. It will immediately calm down your cramps. There are some bitters brands that offer a blend of super herbs including ginger, mint, cinnamon and fennel, mint, and ginger. These natural ingredients are best in treating Stomach Cramps.

Chamomile tea is another option that you can try. It works wonders for stomach pain as it contains anti-inflammatory properties.

Peppermint teas are also good for treating stomach ailments. The cooling properties of menthol leave your stomach cool and calm for a longer period of time.

Apple cider vinegar is the one thing that is easily available in your kitchen. You can simply consume a tablespoon of ACV to relieve your stomach from cramps. This will help in neutralizing the acidic level of the stomach.

Does drinking water help abdominal pain?

Yes, water is a good source for treating abdominal pain. Always remember, you have to address the water needs of your body. Drink water whenever you feel thirsty. It will ensure the movement of things in your gut. By water, we mean water only. Don’t go for carbonated water (Soda) and caffeinated beverages as they can harm your stomach leaving you feeling bloated.

Does coffee help with cramps?

You may be a coffee lover, but drinking it during cramps can worsen the situation. It increases the estrogen levels in your body, making your cramps even more painful. So avoid coffee and caffeine-related foods and drinks.

Home remedies for stomach cramps

There are several home remedies that are readily available in the kitchen. They are:

  • Potato juice: Have potato juice pre-meal thrice a day to cure your problem of stomach gas
  • Charcoal: Having a charcoal tablet before and after your meals which will greatly help in reducing the issues of acidity and gas
  • Turmeric: Have turmeric mixed with milk everyday to get the desired results
  • Ginger: Ginger is good for treating gastric problem as well as indigestion
  • Baking soda: It works as an effective antacid and gives instant relief when you have it mixed with water on an empty stomach
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Onion

Physical Exercises for the people suffering from Stomach Cramps:

  • One of the greatest yoga asanas to attempt for stomach pains is bridge posture.
  • Apanasana Wind Relieving Pose can also be done to get relief from pain.
  • Seated or Reclined Twist is the third most important asana to try during cramps.
Summary: Generally, stomach cramps are harmless. They can last for up to a few hours to one day. Their symptoms are also normal including gas, indigestion, etc. But if your pain is unbearable and is accompanied by constipation or diarrhea then you need immediate medical help.

Does lying on the stomach help cramps?

Lying on your stomach can put a lot of pressure on your stomach. So, avoid sleeping on your stomach. Instead, you can try the fetal position. It is the ideal position that relaxes your abdomen muscles. It makes you feel less strain. Less strain means less cramping experience.

Summary: Abdominal pain that lasts for more than 48 hours is often referred to as stomach cramps. If your pain is unbearable then it is time to consult a physician before it gets worse. There are common signs and symptoms that can easily determine stomach cramps. Some of them are sharp pain in the chest, feeling feverish, shortness of breath, etc. Seek immediate medical help if you experience any of the above signs.

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Written ByDr. Goma Bali Bajaj Diploma in geriatric,MBBS,MEM,Diploma In GeriatricGeneral Physician
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