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Stomach pain: these are the causes and the therapies
Stomach pain occurs in a wide variety of forms and forms in the most diverse diseases. They can be psychological, accompany gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) or indicate a malignant event. In any case, pain in the stomach area that persists or persists over a long period of time, possibly accompanied by general symptoms such as fever or nausea and vomiting, should be clarified by a doctor. Especially when the complaints are sudden and severe, a specialist is required.
Different types of stomach pain
Stomach pain can occur in a variety of ways. For example, those affected describe them as burning, pressing, boring or stabbing. The symptoms often occur in connection with loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, disgust at certain meals or fever. The stomach pain focuses on the stomach area or radiates into the surroundings up to the back.
The symptoms can occur depending on food intake, take place between meals, only become noticeable when fasting, or can be present without a break. It is possible that they torment those affected out of nowhere or disappear just as they occurred.
Causes of stomach pain
A possible cause is the irritable stomach, also called gaster nervosum. The sufferers suffer from recurring complaints, which mainly occur in the middle upper abdomen. These include feeling of fullness, stomach pressure, cramps, loss of appetite, possibly belching, nausea and vomiting.
The examination is usually without pathological findings. The stomach pain, in connection with an irritable stomach, comes and goes and is often found in times of stress. In some cases there is an infection with the Helicobacter pylori. The connection with chronic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) is also discussed. Food allergies and so-called intolerances are becoming increasingly common in patients suffering from irritable stomach.
Gastroenteritis is often responsible for the pain. This can be caused by pathogens such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, EHEC or contaminated food. Gastroenteritis involves both the stomach and the intestine. Typical complaints are abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and possibly fever.
Fungus poisoning and food allergy
Fungus poisoning can also be the trigger. Food poisoning caused by improper storage of the mushrooms must be differentiated from "correct" mushroom poisoning. In this disease, the symptoms differ depending on the type of mushroom consumed. Affected people suffer from stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. There are also complaints such as sweating, inner restlessness, confusion, hallucinations, dizziness or tiredness. The longer the mushrooms stay in the body, the more dangerous the poisoning becomes.
Food allergies are increasingly on the rise. The body reacts inappropriately to a certain food. Almost any food can cause an allergic reaction. The resulting symptoms are of the most varied nature. These include inflammation of the oral mucosa, burning stomach pain, feeling of fullness in connection with flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and intestinal cramps. However, the skin (see itchy rash), lungs and the circulatory system can also react to the food.
Cause inflammation of the stomach
Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) can cause pain in the stomach area. This can be both acute and chronic. Acute gastritis usually arises from stimuli, such as excessive alcohol or nicotine consumption, or in connection with a stressful situation, such as is the case during surgery. The use of certain medications, such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect, but which can attack the gastric mucosa in addition to other side effects, is another potential cause.
Bacteria or spoiled food can also lead to stomach pain and trigger acute gastritis. Those affected suffer from pressure in the stomach area, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. With erosive gastritis, in which the mucous membrane of the stomach has defects, vomiting of blood or so-called tar stool (black bowel movements) can also occur.
The chronic form of gastritis is relatively common. There are three main reasons for this. First, an autoimmune event in which the body forms autoantibodies against certain cells of the gastric mucosa, causing chronic inflammation. With this form, there is an increased risk of developing stomach cancer. The second and most common cause of chronic gastritis and associated stomach pain is the Helicobacter pylori bacterium that colonizes the stomach. The third form, chemically toxic gastritis, is caused by reflux of bile juice, various noxious substances such as nicotine and alcohol, and by taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
The symptoms may indicate a gastric ulcer. Possible triggers for this are once again the Helicobacter pylori bacterium, but also an imbalance in the stomach between the protective and attacking substances. As with gastritis, medication can also be the reason. Those affected suffer from rather unspecific symptoms, such as burning, piercing pain in the epigastrium (upper abdomen). However, immediate pain immediately after meals or food-related pain are an indication of a gastric ulcer. Unfortunately, a third of patients only experience symptoms after complications have arisen.
Stomach pain from malignant diseases
Stomach pain can also indicate a malignant event. Risk factors for gastric carcinoma are pre-existing conditions, such as chronic gastritis, nicotine consumption, nitrosamines in food, such as those found in sausage and meat products, the colonization of the stomach with Helicobacter pylori and a familial predisposition.
Unfortunately, there are no typical symptoms. Patients may have a "sensitive" stomach for a long time, but have no further complaints. Only at a later stage do those affected lose weight, work becomes harder every day, they suffer from nausea, pain and disgust for certain foods, but especially for meat and sausages. Anemia can also occur in gastric carcinoma due to constant blood loss. Similar complaints also occur with pancreatic cancer.
Diagnosis and treatment
A doctor should be consulted, especially if there is recurring pain in the stomach area or if it occurs suddenly and massively. Medical assistance should also be sought if there are severe accompanying symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or fever.
The doctor asks about the type of pain, frequency and possibly timing of meals. In addition, the stomach is scanned. Bacteria of the genus Helicobacter pylori can be detected using a special breath test. This bacterium can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Detection of Helicobacter antigens in bowel movements is also a possible diagnostic method. The X-ray double contrast display used here previously to demonstrate the damage is used less and less today. In contrast, upper abdominal sonography is a gentle, regularly used examination method, which is used, for example, to determine gallstones, pancreatic tumors or an intestinal obstruction. In addition, CT (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the abdomen are frequently used diagnostic methods. In gastroscopy (gastroscopy), the stomach is viewed from the inside using an endoscope and tissue can also be removed. The diagnosis is rounded off by taking various laboratory values into account.
Treatment of stomach problems depends on the diagnosis. It is important for a successful therapy to stop taking medications that have a stressful effect on the stomach lining. Stress, alcohol and nicotine should also be avoided.
Depending on the nature of the pain, drugs are administered that relieve cramps, have a protective effect on the lining of the stomach, have an anti-inflammatory effect or stimulate digestion. If there is a psychological component, soothing measures and stress relief such as relaxation exercises, meditation, yoga or autogenic training are suitable.
Nutrition should also be reconsidered. If it is too acidic, too spicy or too sweet, this can have a negative effect on the stomach and thus cause pain. If an infection with the Helicobacter pylori bacterium was found during the examination, an attempt is made to eliminate it. For this, a combination of two antibiotics and an acid inhibitor is prescribed for a period of seven days.
Naturopathic diagnostic methods
Special diagnostic methods exist in naturopathy. For example, the face or face diagnosis. Certain features on the face indicate certain diseases and predispositions. The lips and nasolabial folds (folds that extend to the left and right from the nostrils to the corners of the mouth) correspond to the gastrointestinal area. A weak fold is usually part of a sensitive stomach, while a pronounced shape is more likely to indicate a stomach ulcer.
With foot reflexology therapy, not only can healing measures be carried out, but it is also used for diagnosis. Color changes, changes in the tissue, warts or tenderness in the stomach zone indicate a disorder. Another diagnostic medium is the iris diagnosis. Each organ in the body corresponds to a zone in the iris. An experienced therapist knows how to read in the eyes and draw conclusions from them.
Tongue diagnosis is used in many naturopathic practices. The tongue is divided into different zones, each of which has a corresponding assignment to the organs. Changes in the tongue covering can also indicate a disease. A tongue with a white coating or a strongly reddened tip of the tongue can be an indication of an inflammation of the stomach.
Naturopathy for stomach pain
In naturopathic therapy for upper abdominal pain, the first priority is of course to get to the bottom of the cause of the symptoms. Body, soul and spirit have to be considered together in order to treat those affected as best they can.
Stomach pain often affects people who cannot digest problems in their lives, leave everything with them and their stomach then rebels. Gastritis in particular, whether acute or chronic, occurs frequently in stressed managers who have no time for healthy and regular food and project all their anger into the stomach. The symptoms associated with inflammation of the stomach are treated, among other things, with homeopathic remedies, such as chamomilla (chamomile), which helps to relieve burning pain and nux vomica (nausea), which works well for pressure and bloating. Bryonia can be helpful if the food is like a stone in your stomach.
There are various complex agents for stomach problems that contain anti-inflammatory and beneficial stomach plants. A warm, moist abdominal compress supports the treatment. Alternatively, a hot water bottle or a cherry stone pillow provide soothing warmth.
Home remedies for stomach pain
A well-known home remedy for stomach pain is the so-called roll cure with chamomile, because the valuable ingredients of the medicinal plant have a calming, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effect. When using the device - as the name suggests - it is “rolled”, which means that the position is changed again and again, so that in the end you have turned around on your own axis. The ingredients of the chamomile can thus affect the entire stomach lining.
- Put two and a half tablespoons of chamomile flowers in a bowl
- Pour half a liter of boiling water over it
- After ten minutes of brewing, the infusion is strained
- Drink two cups of the tea on an empty stomach
- Lie down on the floor and lie on your back for ten minutes
- Then roll to the right side and stay there for ten minutes
- Then the left side and the prone position follow for another ten minutes each
- Provide enough warmth throughout the roll cure by covering yourself
- After the procedure, you should rest for half an hour
Nicotine, coffee, alcohol, sugar, milk and hot spices must be avoided. Likewise, "sour" foods such as fruit tea, sour fruit and raw food should not be consumed. In addition to the conventional medical treatment of a gastric ulcer, the naturopathic methods can have a supporting effect. Various homeopathic medicines are also used here. Neural therapy, which is used for stomach pain, especially in the area of the costal arch, can have a pain-relieving effect due to the reflex influence on the stomach area.
For all diseases associated with pain in the stomach area, care should be taken to a diet that does not contain strong spices and mainly includes basic foods. Irritant substances such as alcohol, nicotine and coffee must be avoided. Regular relaxation, proper chewing (“fletching”) and enough time to eat are important to relieve the stomach and achieve healing.
Helpful home remedies for gastrointestinal flu can be, for example, healing earth or an envelope with boiled, mashed potatoes.
For mild pain, a tea made from medicinal herbs is often very beneficial and soothing. If the stomach tea is homemade, you know exactly what ingredients are included and the hot drink can vary depending on your taste and symptoms. In the case of an inflammation of the stomach, for example, infusion with chamomile, mint and lemon balm is recommended. These herbs ensure that cramps are released and the attacked gastric mucosa can calm down and regenerate.Herbal tea for stomach pain
- Put a teaspoon of chamomile flowers, peppermint and lemon balm leaves in a cup
- Pour 250 ml of boiling water over the herbs
- After 10 minutes, strain the infusion
- Drink the tea in small sips, preferably with meals
In general, fennel tea is highly recommended for stomach complaints, since its ingredients have an antispasmodic and calming effect on the entire gastrointestinal tract. Accordingly, it can also serve well as a home remedy for flatulence or a feeling of fullness, for example. (sw, nr; last updated on August 22, 2017)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- Nimish Vakil: Gastritis, MSD Manual, (accessed September 5, 2019), MSD
- H. R. Koelz, P. G. Lankisch, S. Müller-Lissner: Primer of the leading gastrointestinal symptoms, Springer Verlag, 1995
- Jürgen Stein, Till Wehrmann: Functional diagnostics in gastroenterology, Springer Verlag, 2nd edition 2006
- Johannes-Martin Hahn: Checklist Internal Medicine, Thieme Verlag, 8th edition, 2018
ICD codes for this disease: K31ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find yourself e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.