Stomach aches are extremely common pains that have many causes. Sometimes stomach aches may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. All of this is easily treated at home, with no prolonged issues, but it is important to understand when it is necessary to seek medical attention.

Symptoms

  • Heartburn
  • Excessive gas (burping/farting)
  • Bloating
  • Loose or frequent bowel movements
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Treatment

Most stomach aches and accompanying symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea will go away on their own. Some at-home treatments include:

  • Avoiding aspirin, ibuprofen, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, spicy or fatty foods, and dairy products until at least two days after symptoms are gone
  • If you have been vomiting, nothing to eat or drink until you have gone one hour without vomiting
  • Since dehydration can occur, increasing your intake of clear liquids or sucking on ice chips and then slowly increasing your diet to include soups and broth. Advance your diet slowly over time.
  • Getting plenty of rest.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If symptoms are more severe, you should see your health care provider. Severe symptoms include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that lasts for more than 2–3 days or that worsens over time
  • High fever
  • Excessive pain
  • Loose bowel movements for more than a week
  • Blood in the stool or vomitus

Causes & Prevention

Stomach aches are incredibly common, and there are many different causes.  Viruses, bacteria, parasites, food sensitivities (to dairy, fatty food, spicy food, etc.), eating/drinking too quickly or too much, drinking too much alcohol, and taking medicine on an empty stomach, are all examples of things that may upset your stomach. To prevent stomach aches:

  • Avoid foods that typically agitate your stomach.
  • Wash your hands before your meals.
  • Avoid sharing food/drinks/utensils with others.
  • Cook meat thoroughly, and avoid eating dairy/eggs that have not been cooked thoroughly.
  • Clean all cooking surfaces thoroughly after food preparation.
  • Do not eat food that has been left out of refrigeration for extensive periods of time.
  • Limit your caffeine, alcohol and aspirin/ibuprofen intake.
  • Do not take medications on an empty stomach (unless advised to do so by your health care provider).
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