Stomach cramps give us a strong and gripping sensation in the abdominal region. It occurs when there is a muscular contraction in the abdomen or any of the organs that are present in the abdominal cavity. In other words, it can be related to some problems of stomach, intestines, esophagus, pancreas, gallbladder, and so on. Most of the time, upper stomach cramps happen all of a sudden. The duration of this state can be as short as a few minutes or it can be prolonged and last for a few days. When its intensity is mild, then it is likely to be a minor issue. However, if it goes on for a long time then it could be something serious.
In general, stomach cramps causes are mostly related to digestive health. Some of the important factors responsible for cramping in the upper part of the stomach are given below:
GERD is a condition which arises when the stomach acids flow back into the esophagus and irritate its lining. This gives cramp along with a bloated feeling. It happens when the sphincter or valve present at the lower end of the esophagus near the stomach opening is not functioning properly.
When a person is affected by diarrhea, he/she is likely to get cramps in the muscles of upper abdominal region. Diarrhea is triggered by many different factors. One of them is stomach flu which is a kind of viral infection that is caused due to the consumption of contaminated foods. Besides, eating of spicy foods and overeating are the other causes of stomach cramps and diarrhea.
Irritable bowel syndrome causes this condition after eating. It is mostly experienced after eating specific types of foods like barley, wheat, chocolate, etc. People who have lactose intolerance can get a similar kind of experience after consuming dairy products. Constipation leads to irregularity in bowel movements. As a result, the bowels get blocked up with waste materials of the body and cramps are felt in upper abdomen.
Gastritis is another stomach problem where inflammation on the stomach lining is responsible for upper abdominal pain and cramps. If the location of the stomach cramp is upper right side of the stomach and is accompanied by an intense pain, then it could be a symptoms of formation of gallstones.
Minor problems like bloating, gas, constipation, water retention, stretching uterus are responsible for occasional stomach cramps in early pregnancy and it does not continue for long. Later on, stretching uterus puts a lot of pressure on the abdominal muscles resulting in cramping during pregnancy. However, severe upper stomach cramps can be an indication of a serious disorder related to pregnancy such as preeclampsia.
To get relief from this problem, the first thing that needs to be done is that one should lie down in a comfortable position and take rest so that the contracted muscles get the scope to relax. A minor cramp should get resolved with rest in the first 24 hours. If it does not, then visit a doctor.
The treatment would depend on the causes of abdominal cramps. For diarrhea, consumption of solid foods is suspended for some time. During this time, rehydration fluids have to be taken orally. In case, dehydration occurs then IV fluids are administered. Bacterial infections are treated with the help of antibiotics. For irritable bowel syndrome, doctors recommend a specific diet for the affected person. Gallstones are either dissolved with the help of medicines or removed surgically.
Minor cramping in early pregnancy which is not accompanied by any other symptoms can be tackled with some home treatments such as application of heat, drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, and mild exercises like walking. When it is accompanied by nausea, headache, back pain, bleeding, spotting, high blood pressure, etc., then it requires immediate medical intervention.
Recurrence of this condition can be prevented to a great extent by bringing about changes in one's habits. One should avoid unhealthy foods. One should have his/her food slowly in a stress-free and relaxed atmosphere. One should not indulge in any strenuous physical activities immediately after a meal.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.