What Your Stomach Cramps Are Telling You

Thursday, 18 Nov 2010 12:49 PM

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Stomach cramps affect more than 200,000 people worldwide. There are many things that may cause stomach cramps, but you can treat them with proper care.

Understanding stomach cramps
The intensity of stomach cramps may vary considerably and they may not always reflect the severity of certain underlying conditions. This means that while patients with flatulence or constipation may experience severe cramping pain, life-threatening conditions like cancer show up with mild to no pain at all. Before consulting the doctor, take time to listen to your body and find the exact location and intensity of the pain. Describing the pain accurately and precisely will help the physician diagnose the problem correctly.

Many different conditions can cause abdominal pain including:

1. Constipation - Constipation is a common conditions that affects almost everyone. Insufficient fiber in your diet can back up into the intestines. Constipation can cause a stuffed feeling and create difficulty in having a bowel movement. However, constipation can be easily treated by increasing fiber intake.
2. Appendicitis - An inflamed appendix can cause severe cramping pain in the abdomen. The abdomen can become stiff and tender and might be accompanied by a fever. This is a medical emergency that may need hospitalization for treatment.
3. Menstrual pain - This is one of the most common reasons for stomach pain in women. However, apart from menstrual cramps, several other underlying conditions can also cause cramping. Conditions such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids, and an ectopic pregnancy can also mimic menstrual pain.
4. Food poisoning - Food poisoning can be caused by bacteria like Salmonella, Shigella, or because of viral gastroenteritis. This condition requires immediate treatment through appropriate medications and rehydration. The condition may be accompanied by fever, chills, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and weakness.
5. IBD or Irritable Bowel Disease - This is one of the most common diseases that causes both constipation and diarrhea. Emotional stress and tension are considered to be the main factors that contribute to IBD. Symptoms of IBD include abdominal distension, fullness, gas and bloating, and depression.
6. Lactose intolerance- This condition occurs when the intestines do not make enough of the enzyme lactase. Most babies require lactase to digest breast milk. But, for some people, the formation of the enzyme decreases as they pass out of childhood. This intolerance occurs more often in Caucasians or African-Americans. Inability to digest milk and milk-based products can cause bloating, indigestion, and even vomiting.
7. Urinary tract infections- A UTI or urinary tract infection can affect any part of the urinary tract. Germs inside the urinary system can cause fever, pain, cramping, cloudy urine, and feeling the need to urinate, even when the bladder is empty.
8. Inflammatory bowel diseases - Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are both considered inflammatory bowel diseases. Both of these diseases show overlapping symptoms of stomach cramps, fever, loss of appetite, pain, and watery diarrhea. Although both diseases can be controlled to some extent, they are very uncomfortable for the patient.
9. Allergy - Gluten intolerance or food allergies can cause the intestines to cramp severely, leading to a damaged small intestine.

There are many more diseases that can cause stomach cramps. It is a good idea to get cramps checked out in order to determine if there is an underlying medical condition. Fortunately, most common causes of cramps can be controlled or treated.

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