Indigestion and Bloated Stomach with Cramps

DonnieB52 Asked :

I have always suffered with indigestion but over the past 3 or 4 months it has become worse. I noticed that if I am stressed, drink too much coffee or eat quickly then I get severe stomach cramps. The indigestion and bloating is constant after every meal or when I am hungry and it has always been like this.

But now I am worried about this cramping. It’s like a sharp, throbbing pain that comes and goes every few seconds and it last for about 20 minutes or so immediately after eating. It starts up as I am eating or when I finish my late bite and if the cramping occurs then the indigestion and bloating is worse. The cramping comes on like attacks. It doesn’t always happen. I know that this is all part of the same issue with my indigestion and bloating.

My bloating and burping used to be so bad previously that it actually affected my work when I was talking to clients. The bloating would cause a lot of discomfort and I would have to undo my belt slightly or it would feel like I would explode. That had settled after treatment. The indigestion is like severe nausea and just an upset stomach feeling but that has also settled down slightly. I am more worried about the cramps now. I have also noticed that I have been experiencing heartburn more frequently than in the past. Sometimes its there with the cramping or it just occurs on its own.

My bowel movements are normal and I am not abnormally flatulent. I am not prepared to go through and endoscope examination. Could you give me an idea of what’s causing this?

This question was posted under the Severe Indigestion Causes and Symptoms article.

Any response by the Health Hype team does not constitute a medical consultation and the advice should be viewed purely as a guide. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment program. The information provided in this article is not an authoritative resource on the subject matter and solely intends to guide the reader based on the questions asked and information provided.

Dr. Chris Answered :

There are a number of causes of severe indigestion and in your case it seems more likely that it is due to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux), also known as acid reflux. With GERD, your stomach acid production may be higher than normal and/or your LES (lower esophageal sphincter) which is the valve between your stomach and food pipe may be unable to keep the stomach contents from rising up into the food pipe (esophagus).

There are a number of trigger factors that will cause vagal stimulation of the stomach which increases its activity. Stress or stimulants (like caffeine) will ‘excite’ the muscles and acid-producing cells of your stomach. This will lead to an increased production of acid which will rise up the esophagus and the muscle contractions will result in stomach cramps. Eating fast can also be a problem in overstimulating gastric activity as well as air swallowing (aerophagia) which increase your bloating and gas.

Stress management is an important component in controlling these attacks. There are drugs to reduce the acid production, ease the cramping and limit the reflux but until you get the cause under control, these attacks will persist. Speak to your doctor about all your treatment options. You may also have to consider anti-anxiety drugs or antidepressants to help manage your stress levels. Most treatment options will only be palliative in that it will help relieve your symptoms for a period of time but in order to get this condition under control, you will  have to also look at lifestyle changes.

Remember that indigestion is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms affecting the upper gastrointestinal tract and your doctor will need to do tests and investigations, like an endoscopic examination, to make a conclusive diagnosis. If your doctor feels that an endoscopy is necessary and you refuse to undergo the procedure, then you will only be hampering proper treatment of your condition. The cause could be very severe and potentially life threatening and an upper GI endoscopy can assist your doctor in making a rapid diagnosis.

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