Stomach issues can be quite discomforting - yet despite the uncomfortable feeling, how often have you really looked into what is going on in your gut? Knowing the signs and symptoms of the various kinds of pain you are experiencing can shed light onto the underlying cause of your stomach issues. Here are seven of the most common stomach symptoms and what they may be telling you about your health:
1. Burning sensation in the chest
Possible cause: Acid reflux
Acid reflux is caused by stomach acid that has washed back up into your chest. Most people tend to experience the burning sensation right beneath the breastbone.
What to do: Unfortunately, there's no one size fits all. Foods that trigger heartburn may vary from person to person. But once you have figured out what food is bothering you, cutting it out of your diet ought to help. You may also try adjust your sleep position - sleep slightly propped up (at about a 15-degree angle. This will help keep the acid down in your stomach - where it belongs.
2. Pain around your belly button
Possible cause: Appendicitis
Appendix pain usually starts with a dull pain around the belly button area. As it worsens, the intense discomfort will move towards your right hip bone.
What to do: In a case like this, it's important that you head to the hospital as soon as possible, as you will need surgery in order to have it removed. Not taking your appendix out right away can run the risk of the appendix rupturing, which is incredibly dangerous.
3. Sharp pain under your ribs
Possible cause: Gallstones
Gallstones are little lumps of cholesterol and bile, which vary from the size of a pea to that of a golf ball. No matter how big or small your gallstones may be, an obstruction in your gallbladder causes a sharp pain that tends to worsen after eating.
What to do: Estrogen, contraceptive use and general fertility can impact your risk for getting gallstones - it also tends to occur more in women. Gallstones usually aren't cause for major concern, however if problems persist, surgery might be an option.
4. A burning sensation in your stomach
Possible cause: Peptic ulcer
Daily chronic pain that tends to worsen after eating is a classic symptom of an ulcer. This burning sensation will occur in your gut.
What to do: Stop taking medicine like ibuprofen, as they may make the problem worse. It's also essential that you visit your doctor. Depending on how severe your ulcer is, you may need to take medicine or have surgery.
5. Whole belly discomfort and the urge to run to the bathroom
Possible cause: Lactose intolerance
Some individuals are unable to eat lactose. And pain associated from lactose intolerance is not confined to a specific area. The whole belly generally tends to feel discomfort, because it's usually a small intestine problem. Unfortunately, it gets worse. The discomfort caused in your belly is a combination of gas and diarrhea.
What to do: The best place to start is to figure out your level of lactose intolerance. A few slices of pizza, for instance, may not cause you much harm, but a bite of ice cream may send you rushing to the bathroom. Test what dairy you can and cannot have whenever you plan to stay home. Have a couple of glasses of milk and see what happens, then take it from there.
6. Intestinal cramps and chronic diarrhea
Possible cause: Gluten sensitivity
You may be allergic to gluten or have celiac disease. In which case, you'll notice bloating, gas and cramps in your gut after eating foods that contain gluten.
What to do: The best course of action would be to test how you react to certain foods and speak with your doctor to determine how to eliminate them. If your gluten allergy is severe you might want to speak to a nutritionist, make sure that your are getting enough of the nutrients you need.
7. Bloody diarrhea, pain, and fever
Possible cause: Colitis or Crohn's disease
Symptoms are generally associated with gas, cramps and bloating. You may also discover blood in your stool, possibly accompanied by nausea and fever.
What to do: Speak to your doctor immediately. Both Crohn's disease and colitis operate on a spectrum of severity. Treatment may vary accordingly. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine or advise a more extensive treatment. As always, it's better to be safe than sorry as both conditions can land you in hospital if not managed properly.