Mild and temporary to severe and prolonged pain inside the abdomen or the outer muscle wall is known as Gastric Pain. This discomfort in the Upper Abdomen is often accompanied by other symptoms like heartburn, bloating, belching, nausea, vomiting, etc. The pain varies from a dull ache to severe, throbbing pain. Symptoms like indigestion, hiccups, loss of appetite, black & tarry stools, etc. call for a medical check-up so that the doctor can diagnose the reason behind the gastric pain.
Personal and family medical history, along with a thorough physical evaluation, will be carried out before arriving at a diagnosis. Gastric pain can be either with organic causes or can also be due to non-ulcer dyspepsia. Non-ulcer dyspepsia forms the majority of the causes.
Some of the causes of Gastric Stomach Pain are as follows:
- Peptic Ulcer Disease
Ulcers formed in the innermost layer of the stomach wall are known as Peptic Ulcers. These are brought on about by Helicobacter Pylori infection, or by the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Aspirin and other painkillers are the most common type of NSAIDs, excessive use of which regularly cause Peptic Ulcers. You need to get a blood test to rule out H.pylori infection. A urea breath test, stool test, are done during endoscopy also helps detect H.pylori infection.
- Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)
GORD is the chronic condition of reflux, i.e., the stomach acid or bile flows back into the stomach. The irritation caused by the acid gives rise to gastric pain. Your doctor will suggest an endoscopy to rule out GORD. A camera carrying a thin tube is passed through the mouth to examine the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The tiny camera helps to detect the irritation in the lining if any.
A variety of Cancers like Stomach Cancer, pancreatic Cancer, or Liver Cancer can lead to gastric pain. Endoscopy will help rule out Cancer if you have been experiencing symptoms lately. Tissue samples obtained will be checked for cancerous cells. Or a barium meal x-ray examination can be done to rule out the same.
- Gallstone Disease
Gallstones themselves do not generally give rise to no particular sign or symptoms, except on occasions. However, severe pain can arise from inflammation of the gall bladder or when the bile duct is blocked.
In such cases, you will be asked to undergo ultrasound scans and CT scans. These tests will help reveal if there are any gall stones or not.
- Non-ulcer Dyspepsia.
Non-ulcer Dyspepsia is the other cause of gastric pain, apart from organic diseases. It is also known as functional Dyspepsia. It is suspected that stress is the primary reason behind this trouble. Hence, low doses of antidepressants are generally advised by the doctor. They help in lowering the amount of acid produced by the stomach.
Plus, medicines that can reduce stomach acid are prescribed. These include:
- H2 Blockers. These are Histamine blockers that block Histamine. Example- Cimetidine, Nizatidine, and Famotidine.
- Proton Pump inhibitors, which include Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, Pantoprazole, Rabeprazole, and esomeprazole.
Some methods to prevent Gastric Pain include:
- Small but frequent meals- People suffering from indigestion should have small meals, every day. It is a better recourse than three large meals a day, which is the norm; heavy breakfast, lunch, and dinner should make way for small meals taken throughout the day.
- Eating on time and avoiding skipping meals. Such a routine helps the stomach get accustomed to releasing gastric juices only during meal times, rather than at erratic hours.
- Consuming blander foods. Cutting down on spicy food, fatty or fried food, goes a long way to reducing gastric symptoms. Your stomach gets the chance to heal back.
- Moderate alcohol intake. Excessive alcohol intake weakens the protective lining of the stomach. This makes you more susceptible to ulcers. Thus one needs to cut down on alcohol consumption.
- Quit Smoking. Stomach Acid production is caused to increase by smoking. The more the stomach acid, the more time your stomach takes to heal. This increases the risk of getting stomach cancer.
- Stress reduction. High stress leads to gastric juice production. Regular exercise, recreation, therapy, etc. can lead to stress reduction and, in turn, help keep the gastric acid in check.
You need to know about the factors that affect your lifestyle and give rise to gastric troubles as mentioned above. Proper diet and exercise will go a long way to keeping the body free from such troubles. Any sign of gastric pain should not be neglected, and a doctor must be referred to, immediately.