What the Location of Your Bellyache Reveals About Your Health

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Burning, dull, sharp pain or cramping in different areas of your belly can tell a lot about how your body currently feels. Since the belly contains a lot of important organs and nerve endings, there are many factors that can cause pain in different places. An unhealthy diet, too much food, smoking, and some medication can cause ulcers, gallstones, or even heartburn. That’s why it’s important to locate the pain and take the necessary measures immediately.

Bright Side wants to point out one more time the importance of a healthy lifestyle and tell you everything about bellyaches that are important and need to be taken care of.

Dull upper abdominal pain: Excess gas

If you’re experiencing a dull pain in the upper area of your stomach or abdomen and you feel bloated, it can possibly mean that you have excess gas in there. You might also experience other symptoms: pain that comes in waves and causes your stomach to swell, you feel like something is moving in your stomach, and you are burping or passing gas. Causes: Quick eating and fast swallowing with your mouth can cause this feeling. Fizzy drinks, beer, dairy products, and beans cause the formation of excessive gasses in the stomach. Solution: To prevent this uncomfortable state, it’s better to consume less of the foods that are listed above. A quick fix for this problem is a pill with activated charcoal or a peppermint oil pill.

Pain in the lower chest area or top of the abdominal area: Heartburn

Heartburn (acid reflux) creates a burning pain in your lower chest area, and the top of your abdomen. Also, you can feel burning in your throat and it sometimes brings up a weird acidic taste that you can feel in your throat. Causes: There are a bunch of foods that can trigger heartburn. Among them are: greasy and spicy foods, alcohol (particularly red wine), raw onions, chocolate, citrus fruits, coffee, and caffeinated drinks. Moreover, smoking cigarettes makes heartburn worse. Solution: Try not to overeat — it’s better to eat 5 to 6 small meals during your day, instead of 2-3 huge meals. Also, it’s recommended to wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid pressure on your abdomen and to try to quit smoking.

Severe pain in the upper abdominal area: Ulcers

Ulcers might be the reason for sharp pain in your upper abdominal and stomach area. Ulcers appear when your stomach lining is damaged, they can also be triggered by strong painkillers. The other symptoms of ulcers are: changes in appetite, nausea, bloody or dark stools, unexplained weight loss, vomiting, and chest pain. Causes: Frequent use of aspirin, ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory drugs and smoking and drinking too much alcohol adversely affects the stomach and causes ulcers. Solution: To prevent ulcers, it’s recommended to not drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day and to not mix it with medications. You should also limit painkillers and wash your hands before every meal. It’s very important to eat a diet that includes whole grains, mixed with fruits or vegetables, and quit smoking.

Cramping and bloating: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

If your digestive system is sensitive, then you can feel cramping and bloating in your belly area and trigger Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In this case 2 possible outcomes can happen. Either your digestive system will start working really fast and lead to diarrhea, or everything will slow down and cause you to be constipated. Causes: It’s still unknown what causes IBS, but it’s believed that it can happen due to a certain combination of abnormal gastrointestinal tract movements, increased awareness of bodily functions, and a disruption in the communication between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract. Solution: In this case it’s better to check which foods are you sensitive to and decrease their intake.

Cramping and diarrhea: Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)

If you feel sharp pain and cramps in your abdominal area, have watery (usually non-bloody) diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, occasional muscle aches or headache and low-grade fever it can indicate that you have gastroenteritis. Causes: You can get infected with gastroenteritis if you eat or drink contaminated food or water, or if you use the accessories, towels, and personal things of an infected person. Solution: To prevent getting infected get yourself vaccinated, wash your hands before you eat, make sure everyone at your home uses separate personal items, and disinfect hard surfaces.

Mild pain and indigestion: Lactose intolerance

Stomach pain and bloating are some common symptoms that indicate lactose intolerance. This can cause diarrhea, increased gas, or constipation. Some other symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, loss of concentration, muscle and joint pain, mouth ulcers, and problems urinating. Causes: Normally, lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency of the intestinal enzyme lactase. It splits lactose into 2 smaller sugars (glucose and galactose) and allows lactose to be absorbed from the intestine. Solution: If you notice that you are lactose intolerant, it’s recommended to follow a lactose-free diet. Though, to make sure you don’t lose calcium and other useful elements, that we get from dairy products, try to eat more products like broccoli, kale, tuna, salmon, and calcium-fortified products like soy milk.

Gas, chronic diarrhea, bloating: Gluten intolerance

A gluten intolerance has many symptoms, and the most common ones are: diarrhea, constipation, smelly feces, bloating, abdominal pain, skin problems, unexplained weight loss, and depression. Causes: If you have a gluten intolerant, then products like bread, pasta, or any other food containing wheat and non-food items with wheat-based ingredients (like Play-Doh, for example), cosmetics, or bath products can trigger these symptoms. Solution: To control your gluten sensitivity, it’s recommended to try to avoid wheat-based foods and products and consult with your doctor about possible medical treatments.

Severe pain in the upper right abdomen and under the shoulder: Gallstone

It’s not that easy to indicate the presence of gallstones in your body. You’ll only really realize they’re there if they are inflamed and lodged in one of the ducts that carry the digestive juices from the liver to the small intestine. In this case, the symptoms will be: severe and sudden pain in the upper right abdomen, fever, shivering, and nausea. Causes: There are several risk factors that can trigger the formation of gallstones: being overweight or obese, being sedentary, pregnancy, consuming high-fat and high-cholesterol foods, not eating enough fiber-rich foods, heredity, diabetes, and taking medications that contain estrogen, like oral contraceptives or hormone therapy drugs. Solution: To prevent the formation of gallstones you should follow some simple rules. Don’t skip meals, control your weight, if you’re following a diet — rapid weight loss increases the risk of gallstones. Also, try to maintain a healthy weight. Being obese or underweight puts your body at high risk.

Lower right abdominal pain: Appendicitis

An inflammation of the appendix is called appendicitis. It’s a dangerous condition that requires immediate medical treatment. Symptoms of appendicitis are sharp pain near the navel or the upper abdomen that moves to the lower right abdomen, abdominal swelling, high fever, and the inability to pass gas. Causes: Causes of appendicitis can be: blocked openings inside the appendix, appendix wall tissues that are enlarged (due to an infection in the gastrointestinal tract or in another part of the body), parasites, or growths that can infect your appendiceal lumen or damage your abdomen. Solution: We can’t prevent appendicitis. Appendicitis is less common in people who stick to a healthy diet and eat foods that are high in fiber like fresh vegetables and fruits. If you think that you might have appendicitis, call your doctor immediately to check your condition, and administer the proper treatment.

Important: If any of these uncomfortable feelings happen to you, please contact your doctor immediately.

Have you ever experienced any of these bellyaches? Did the location of the ache match the cause described above? We would like to hear about your experience in the comment section!

Illustrated by Oleg Guta for BrightSide.me