IBS: Cramping in the lower abdomen
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If ongoing stomach pain is also accompanied by bloating, gassiness, and a change in bowel habits— either constipation or diarrhea—it could be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). “IBS is probably one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders that a gastroenterologist sees,” says Lawrence J. Brandt, MD, a gastroenterologist at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, NY. IBS affects about 12 percent of the U.S. population (mostly women). Though the cause is unknown, problems in brain-gut communication may contribute to IBS. The condition shouldn’t cause weight loss or rectal bleeding, says Dr. Brandt. If that happens, something else is going on.
IBD: Abdominal pain and cramping, along with rectal bleeding
These stomach pain symptoms often indicate inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These conditions have similar symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose which form of IBD a patient is suffering from, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Besides abdominal pain, other symptoms of IBD can include diarrhea, weight loss, having to flush multiple times to make the stool go down the toilet, kidney stones, vitamin D deficiency and electrolyte abnormalities. IBS does not cause these symptoms. There are about 1.6 million American’s who have Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, according to the foundation. Try these 9 medicine-free stomach ache remedies you never knew about.
Heartburn: Burning pain in the center of the abdomen
This feeling is all too common after a big, greasy meal: It’s heartburn. The keyword is “burning,” notes Dr. Brandt, and it’s typically coupled with a bitter taste in your mouth. Acid reflux is the regurgitation of partially digested liquids or foods that have mixed with stomach acid. This acidic mix makes its way into your esophagus (food tube) and throat, causing a burning sensation. Occasional heartburn is nothing to worry about, but chronic heartburn, known as acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Heartburn affects up to 28 percent of Americans, according to research in 2014 in Gut. It can lead to chronic digestive disorders if left untreated. If the pain you are experiencing is heartburn, an over-the-counter antacid like TUMS should immediately dampen the symptoms. If it doesn’t, you may not have heartburn.