It can be described as a condition in which digestion is affected & you experience pain or discomfort in the abdomen. It is also known as digestive disorders and stomach may not always be involved in the problem. The stomach problem is mostly related with the digestive tract, and sometimes can be due to conditions of body wall, blood vessels, urinary tract, reproductive organs, or organs of chest.
Generalized stomach disorders (problems) are associated with diet, infection, or inflammation. Females mostly experience stomach problems due to menstrual cycle or an infection in the reproductive organ. Disorders most specific to stomach & upper GIT (gastrointestinal tract) is heartburn, belching, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), gastritis (inflammation of stomach lining), hiatal hernias (when stomach bulges up into chest), peptic ulcers.
Stomach disorders causes can be due to several problems with the digestive tract, circulatory system, reproductive system, urinary tract, respiratory system, nervous system, or body wall.
- Digestive tract causes include bacterial/parasitic/viral infection, celiac diseases (severe sensitivity to gluten), diverticulitis (inflammation of pocket in the colon), food intolerance like lactose intolerance (unable to digest lactose sugar), gall bladder diseases or stones, GERD, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS; which is digestive discomfort without intestinal damage), liver disease like hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), & pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).
- Causes related to other body system include endometriosis (tissues resembling uterine lining grow in other areas of the body), kidney stones, menstrual cramps, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), pneumonia, UTI (urinary tract infection), abdominal or hiatal hernia (weakening in abdominal wall or diaphragm).
- Life-threatening causes include ectopic pregnancy (fetus growing outside the uterus), bowel obstruction or perforation, appendicitis (appendix inflammation), aneurysm of the abdominal aorta (life-threatening bulging & weakening of abdominal aorta wall), abdominal abscess (collection of pus), chemical/heavy metal poisoning, & intestinal ischemia (loss of blood supply towards intestine).
Some factors that risk you towards getting stomach disorders can be:
- Being overweight or obese
- Not having a healthy diet
- Consuming too much salty & smoked foods
- Having a family history of various stomach disorders
Its symptoms include:
- Digestive tract symptoms: abdominal pain/cramping, abdominal swelling/distension or bloating, belching (burping), bloody stools, constipation (hard stools), diarrhea, indigestion, gas, nausea with or without vomiting.
- Other body system symptoms: fever, enlarged liver & glands like spleen and lymph nodes, painful sexual encounter, cough, painful/burning sensation while urinating, rash, unexplained weight loss, pain, numbness, or tingling.
- Life-threatening symptoms: bleeding while pregnant, chest pain/tightness, chest pressure/palpitation, tachycardia (rapid heart rate), seizure, respiratory or breathing problems.
Its diagnosis involves:
- Taking medical history, noting symptoms & a physical examination helps.
- Lab tests include fecal occult tests (detects hidden blood in stool), stool culture (checks presence of abnormal bacteria in the digestive tract)
- Imaging tests include barium beefsteak meal (radiologist watches as the digestion of meal in the stomach), colorectal transit study (how well food moves through the colon), CT or CAT scan (computed tomography scan), defecography (X-ray of the anorectal area), lower GI series (also called barium enema), MRI, MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography), oropharyngeal motility study, radioisotope gastric-emptying scan, & ultrasound (the diagnostic technique that uses high-frequency sound waves).
- Endoscopic procedures include colonoscopy (view entire colon), ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography), sigmoidoscopy (a diagnostic procedure that examines the inside of a portion of the large intestine).
- And many other procedures related to the specific condition involved.
Its treatment involves:
- Over-the-counter remedies
- Prescription medications will depend upon the specific condition
- Surgery required according to the specific area that is causing the stomach disorder
- Avoid foods & beverages that worsen your symptoms
- Avoid smoking & drinking alcohol
- Avoid difficult to digest foods
- Drink lots of water
- Make healthy dietary changes
- Avoid lying down when stomach upset
- Ginger & mint helps
- Taking a warm bath or using a heating bag
When to consult a doctor?
You must consult your healthcare provider when you start experiencing:
- Blood when you have a bowel (part of the alimentary canal below the stomach) movement
- Losing weight unintentionally
- Ongoing vomiting or diarrhea (loose motions)
- Heartburn that is unrelieved by antacids
- Severe abdominal pain