Suffering from an Upset Stomach? Here Are the Most Common Causes

Experience stomach discomfort can be highly unpleasant, though all of us experience it at some point in our lives. Not knowing what is causing this health problem can almost be as stressful as the condition itself, too.

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Fortunately, there is now plenty of research on the subject. As such, it is often possible to diagnose the cause of your stomach problem yourself, as well as take action to cure or manage it. For reference, here are a number of the most common causes, how you can identify them, and what you can do to treat or manage them.

Food Poisoning

Mother Nature Is So Cruel To Us Women
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The most obvious cause of upset stomachs is food poisoning, which is a common illness caused by the ingestion of contaminated food or drink. Food poisoning is usually quite easy to identify, because the symptoms can be quite severe, and are often noticeable only hours after ingesting the thing that caused it (though they may also appear after several days). Common symptoms other than nausea and diarrhoea include high fevers, indigestion, and chills.

Fortunately, while the symptoms can be highly unpleasant, most cases of food poisoning normally last between 1 and 2 days. Unfortunately, though, there is little you can do to cure it, it other than wait for it to pass naturally, by getting bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids. If your symptoms are particularly uncomfortable, you can purchase over-the-counter painkillers or diarrhoea tablets over the counter from pharmacies and most supermarkets.  Finally, if your condition appears to not be improving after multiple days, you should consult a doctor.

Food / Drink Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities

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Even if they are not contaminated, occasionally, foods and beverages can cause abdominal pain and diarrhoea for certain individuals. These symptoms typically go away a few hours after ingesting the cause of the stomach pain, but if this happens repeatedly, it can become highly inconvenient. This reaction can be caused by either sensitivity to specific food and drinks, or more serious allergies and intolerances. Conditions like coeliac’s disease, where sufferers cannot break down gluten, or lactose intolerances, for example, can lead to abdominal pain if these foodstuffs are unintentionally ingested.

If you experience this sensation only after eating particularly rich, fatty foods, or after changing your diet, it is likely that this is a sensitivity problem, which can easily be managed through moderation. Food sensitivities are fairly common, as it is estimated that around 20% of people have a sensitivity to some type of food or beverage. If you find this keeps happening, though, it may be the case that you have a food intolerance that you may have just developed or not previously known about. Keeping a diary of the foods you have ingested will help you work out what is causing your stomach problem. If your symptoms are particularly severe, and a food diary has not helped, you can even use an elimination diet to ultimately determine what is causing your stomach issues.


Woman suffering from abdominal pain. France
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If you are regularly experiencing these symptoms, and have determined that it is not being caused by the ingestion of a specific foodstuff, it may be the case that you are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This is a common illness among adults, as scientists estimate that roughly 10-15% people in the US suffer from it. Though the cause has not yet been discovered, it is thought that this it may be related to an increased sensitivity in the bowels. If your symptoms are persistent over several months, and are accompanied by any of these symptoms, you should seriously consider getting checked for it by a physician. As there is of yet no cure for the condition, lifestyle and dietary changes are usually recommended as ways of managing IBS – however, you may also be prescribed medications to help manage your symptoms.


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Overconsumption of alcohol can also wreak havoc with your digestive system, causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Even only moderate drinking can inflame your bowels and intestines, while also causing dehydration, which can exacerbate abdominal pain. What’s worse, prolonged consumption of alcohol can put you at risk of developing more serious conditions like bowel cancer. If you are regularly suffering from any of these symptoms, you should consider restricting your alcohol intake to see if it improves your health in this respect. Moderate consumption of alcohol is generally agreed to be around 1 drink a day for females, and 2 drinks a day for males. It goes without saying that alcohol is also associated with a number of other negative effects on health, including increasing your risk of liver disease.



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