Stomach discomfort may vary in sensation. Sometimes it is just mild discomfort or a minor stomach ache, while at other times, it can intensify to the point of severe gastric pain. Diagnosing the cause of stomach discomfort depends on how often it occurs, whether it is intermittent or persistent, trigger factors, and concomitant signs and symptoms like nausea, vomiting, regurgitation, belching, bloating and even changes in bowel movement.
Causes of Stomach Discomfort
Most causes of stomach discomfort tend to exacerbate after eating.
- This is a result of the acidic stomach contents rising up into the esophagus.
- Symptoms include heartburn (burning chest pain), nausea, regurgitation, water brash and throat irritation.
- Acid reflux tends to occur after eating, especially after large meals (overeating), exercising after eating, lying flat or consuming alcohol.
- Chronic cases are known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and arises due to various other causes, the most common of which is a dysfunction of the LES (lower esophageal sphincter).
- Gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach lining, most often due to H.pylori infection or the use of NSAIDs.
- Discomfort may vary from a stomach ache to severe pain and tends to worsen on an empty stomach or after eating. It is often described as a burning or gnawing stomach pain.
- Nausea, vomiting, belching, bloating and a loss of appetite are other common symptoms.
- This is an open sore in the stomach or duodenum often as a result of chronic gastritis.
- A stomach ulcer may present with pain when hungry or at night which slightly eases after eating.
- It may also cause changes in appetite, nausea and vomiting.
- A bleeding ulcer may result in blood in the vomit (hematemesis) or dark blood in the stool (melena).
- Accumulation of gas in the upper gut usually a result of air swallowing and drinking carbonated beverages.
- Symptoms may include excessive belching, stomach bloating, abdominal distension and regurgitation.
- A gassy stomach may be a symptom of other disorders as discussed under discussed under Excessive Gas.
Gastric Outlet Obstruction
- The outflow of the stomach contents into the duodenum is hampered as a result of conditions like pyloric stenosis, stomach polyps or stomach cancer.
- Pain is usually in the upper middle abdominal area and is severe, especially after eating.
- Delayed gastric emptying may result in stomach bloating, upper abdominal distension, nausea, projectile vomiting and heartburn.
- In a hiatal hernia, a portion of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragmatic opening.
- Although it may go unnoticed for long periods of time, larger hernias may cause heartburn, chest pain, nausea and excessive belching. The symptoms tend to aggravate after eating.
- These are disorders that cause a range of gastrointestinal symptoms when other possible causes are ruled out.
- Non-ulcer dyspepsia (indigestion) and irritable bowel syndrome are two functional gut disorders. Although irritable bowel syndrome is associated with changes in bowel movement, stomach discomfort may also be present.
- Symptoms include stomach bloating, abdominal distension, nausea with/without vomiting, abdominal pain and excessive belching.
Other causes of stomach discomfort may be related to the organs and structures surrounding the stomach. This includes :