Why You Should Always Take Stomachaches Seriously
By Space Coast Daily // November 19, 2019
Pharmacists have been slinging cures from tonics, to ghee, to pink bismuth for hundreds of years, trying to combat rampant cases of stomach discomfort.
Stomachaches maybe both age-old and common, but their root causes vary significantly, can be dangerous to your health, and should be taken seriously.
If your primary symptom is stomach pain, you might have one of the following conditions, which require medical diagnosis and interventions such as prescription drugs or surgery:
• INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE (IBD):
Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two forms of IBD. In Crohn’s disease, inflammation can occur sporadically anywhere along the digestive track, especially the bowel walls. Ulcerative colitis presents a continuous inflammation of the colon. These conditions can sometimes have life-threatening complications.
• IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS):
A chronic disorder primarily of the large intestine, causing pain in the belly, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.
Inflammation or infection in one or more small pouches in the digestive tract.
• STOMACH ULCERS:
Sores that develop on the lining of the small intestine, esophagus, or stomach.
• CELIAC DISEASE:
An abnormal immune reaction to eating gluten that can lead to inflammation and malabsorption in the small intestine.
• ECTOPIC PREGNANCY:
When a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, where it cannot grow into a viable fetus. Complications can include damage to nearby organs or potentially fatal blood loss.
A painful infection of the appendix. Nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, fever, and chills are symptoms.
• KIDNEY STONES:
A deposit that forms in the kidneys that can be very painful to pass and can cause nausea.
A hardened deposits within the fluid in the gallbladder, a small organ under the liver. This can be very painful if any deposits become lodged in ducts.
Underlying many gastrointestinal issues is intestinal permeability, also sometimes referred to as leaky gut.
Semipermeable is the normative state of your gut lining, so that nutrients can be allowed into your bloodstream, but other random molecules will not flood your system. Whereas, hyperpermeability can inhibit food digestion and allow toxins, parasites, or microbes to infiltrate.
These types of changes in the cell wall of your digestive tract indicated dysfunction that may be systemic: part of the way your body is reacting to biological invaders, medications, or a problematic lifestyle.
If you find yourself with a stomach ache that is likely related to leaky gut, you might be looking for information on how you stop it before it leads to something worse.
The more contributing factors that are present, the harder it can be to discern the precipitating cause and make decisions about how to treat your symptoms, which may include the big five listed at the start of this article.
Hyperpermeability is a factor in the development of digestive diseases, however, it also shows meaningful co-occurrence with some serious non-digestive health issues.
These include obesity, extreme fatigue, multiple sclerosis (MS), asthma, depression, Parkinson’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), liver disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, migraine headaches, and eczema.
The relationship is still being studied and may go both ways (disease activity may be causal and consequential of intestinal permeability).
Pain, bloating, cramping, acid reflux, vomiting, or loose bowels are all euphemistically referred to as an upset stomach or an icky tummy—these symptoms can be socially challenging and may affect your appetite.
They may be temporary, intermittent, or ongoing. In addition to seeking the help of a qualified medical professional, there are several common types of pain associated with digestion that can be greatly reduced, or even eliminated, with a few thoughtful lifestyle changes:
Many people start the day with caffeine and end it with alcohol. Be warned: both are diuretics and hard on the liver. Carbonated beverages can have the unwanted side effect of contributing to bloating; and many sodas are chock full of extra sugar, also a diuretic.
Diuretics send your body a message to filter liquids from the blood through the renal system at an increased rate, which has a dehydrating effect. Good old H20, on the other hand, has a regulatory effect on these systems.
Include a variety of vegetables in your diet. Vegetables are full of nutrients, including zinc, potassium, and magnesium (all important to digestion); and fiber, which supports a healthy gut microbiome and keeps things moving. Foods that slow digestion, such as oily, fatty foods (including fried ones), as well as spicy dishes, can have a constipating effect.
Eat nutritious foods with simple ingredients, and limit additives and preservatives. Whole foods are those that are virtually unrefined or unprocessed and do not contain artificial substances.
Don’t forget that whole food is still meant to be chewed! In fact, if you chew well, you decrease your risk of swallowing excess air and becoming bloated and uncomfortable that way.
Also, slowed eating gives your brain time to notice that you’re satiated before you overeat.
The stomach can hurt when it’s too full, or when it’s so empty that you become queasy with bile. Healthy snacking between lighter meals means that your stomach lining isn’t exposed to acid for long periods. It also makes you far less likely to overdo it in one sitting.
We appreciate that eating a varied diet that includes vegetables and fruit each day can be a challenge, which is why a number of superfood powders have popped up on the market place. Companies like Detox Organics suggest their healthy chocolate shake can provide much-needed greens and other nutrients to help, check this page.
KEEP GERMS AT BAY
Wash your hands to keep viral illness, like the common “stomach bug” out of your system. Clean your hands before touching your face, eating or preparing food, and anytime you’ve been in contact with a public use item (a handrail or doorknob, for example).
If you do contract an infection, a high functioning drainage system can go a long way, so be kind to your liver, kidneys, and colon. For example, make sure that any drugs you are taking are medically necessary and know the side effects of your medications.
Ask your doctor about the properties of any herbs or other supplements you take, to be sure there is no contraindication with your health or incompatibility with other things you are putting into your body.
SEEK OUT STRESS MANAGEMENT ACTIVITIES
Anxiety has physical symptoms. That tight or fluttering feeling in your gut is telling. Chronic stress can increase gut permeability. Yet, the directive “lower your stress” can be one of the hardest pills to swallow and induce its own wave of anxiety.
Since a certain amount of stress is an unavoidable aspect of daily living, and empowering approach can be to counteract it with stress management activities.
These may include a meditation practice; regular exercise; contact with loved ones; or thoughtful, flow hobbies like gardening, journaling, music appreciation, or baking.
EVALUATE YOUR EXPOSURE TO POTENTIAL TRIGGERS
Sometimes an elimination of one or more of the following types of food can change everything: gluten; sugar; alcohol; preservatives such as polysorbate and monoglycerides (emulsifiers); foods with low fiber and/or added salt.
Heavy metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, and mercury are common contaminants in our environment; you might consider testing your water and soil.
Eating organic is one way to avoid the consumption of harmful pesticide residues.
Medications that can have undesirable digestive side effects include antibiotics; acid reducers; ibuprofen (or other NSAIDs); and methotrexate (common as a chemotherapy drug and also for autoimmune conditions).
If your pain is acute and lifestyle changes are not providing quick relief, please seek the help of your doctor. It is important to discuss your symptoms and your efforts to learn more about your unique digestive system with a qualified medical professional because chronic stomach pain is often related to underlying health factors that may not be directly associated with the symptoms that bother you most.
The upside is that once you repair digestive function, intestinal permeability can be greatly reduced or may even re-establish a normal, semipermeable state.
These changes may even allow you to gradually consume a more inclusive diet if you found that you had limited food triggers while in a state of gut wall hyperpermeability. Here’s to your health!