What Causes Stomach Cramps?

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There are many causes of stomach cramps and while symptoms can often vary between individuals, chronic pain should never be ignored. In the same respect, stomach cramps can sometimes represent an indicator that an underlying disorder is present. This is why it is prudent to take a quick look at some of the causes of cramps as well as a handful of potential remedies to consider.

The Primary Causes of Stomach Cramps

Cramps are commonly defined as slight pain or discomfort that is found within the abdominal region. The type of pain will depend on the cause of the cramps in question. For instance, runners may develop a “stitch” in their side after jogging for an extended period of time. Cramps can also develop from internal scenarios including:

  • Lactose intolerance.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Allergies.
  • A stomach or intestinal virus.
  • In rare cases, food poisoning.

As a general rule of thumb, the majority of cramps will relieve themselves within a short period of time. It is still a good idea to consult with a physician if you encounter acute pain that does not subside, that becomes worse or is accompanied by a fever. These could indicate that a more serious condition exists.

Irritable bowel disease

A Quick Look at the Types of Stomach Cramps

Doctors will often classify stomach cramps into three discrete categories:

  • Generalized discomfort (pain that is felt in more than 50 per cent of the abdominal region).
  • Localised pain.
  • Pain that increases and decreases (often classified as simple cramps and by far the most common scenario).

This will also help professionals to provide a diagnosis. For example, diffuse abdominal pain may be related to physical exertion or even a hiatal hernia. Internal cramping could indicate that certain dietary changes are warranted.

Are Anxiety and Stomach Pain Related?

Were you aware that some types of anxiety can lead to cramping? It is thought that this is at least partially related to the “fight-or-flight” syndrome. When we feel worried or suddenly stressed, our bodies will sometimes release hormones (such as cortisol) into the bloodstream.

These have the effect of speeding up the metabolism and in some cases, disrupting normal digestive processes. If left unchecked, simple cramps can evolve into more chronic conditions such as gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) and even stomach ulcers due to increased concentrations of gastric acid.

Is There a Relationship Between Stomach Cramps and Obesity?

There can also be times when cramps and abdominal pain share a relationship with obesity. While research is still ongoing, some interesting correlations have already been made:

  • Those who hold excessive weight in their midsection seem to be more prone to developing inflammation.
  • Gut bacteria are different in obese individuals when compared to those associated with a normal body mass index.
  • Overweight individuals can suffer from “leaky gut”, a situation that causes an increased permeability of the digestive tract.

Stomach cramps may also cause obese individuals to avoid specific foods, potentially depriving them of valuable nutrients that are vital in terms of their overall health.

Stomach cramps linked to obesity

How Can Stomach Cramps be Relieved?

As mentioned previously, most stomach cramps are no cause for alarm. They will normally resolve themselves within a short period of time. If they persist, taking an antacid tablet or stretching can help to relieve any perceived discomfort. In the event that these cramps are psychosomatic, it is wise to improve the ways in which you deal with stressful situations.

Another prudent option involves speaking with your doctor or a qualified nutritionist. There can be instances when certain foods are causing cramps. You might even be suffering from a mild form of lactose intolerance. Either way, it is always best so seek a qualified diagnosis so that the most appropriate actions can subsequently be taken.

If you have recently been fitted with a Spatz3 adjustable gastric balloon, cramps might also be experienced on occasion. This is often due to the simple fact that your abdomen is adjusting to a lower caloric intake as well as to the presence of the balloon itself.

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