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Updated on March 26, 2013


Next to back pain, the most common complaint in the human condition is pain in the stomach and related areas. Quite often these pains are simply self inflicted by eating or drinking too much or as a result of some dodgy prepared or cooked foods. Incidently, I learned the other day that the most likely foods to give you a pain in the gut when eating out are not the undercooked meats and fish so often blamed for food poisoning, but SALADS ! Apparently too often the raw materials are often unwashed or poorly washed and can retain not only bugs and living creatures but also the insecticides used to control them whilst growing. Top tip, either only eat salad at home or visit the kitchens when eating out !

However, that aside, stomach area pains are something we all get and suffer from from time to time without anything more than short term or mild discomfort. As a celliac, I have to pay close attention to my diet and avoid gluten in foods or risk a rapid flare up in my digestive system and potentially serious consequences. I have lived with that since 1985 and it is just part of life to me now, aided by the eagle eyes of my wife who checks every item of food we purchase to consume. However, everyone should take heed of any pain in the stomach and monitor closely. Chances are it will be a short term discomfort and pass on quickly but, as I learned recently, it could be an early warning to the sufferer of worse in store for them if not heeded.



1. Cramp in the middle of the abdomen which comes and goes in wavelike periods could identify Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is an upset in the digestive system as food passes through the digestive area. This is often caused by certain foods and drinks, so the key is to identify and avoid to see if that stops the problem. If not visit the GP as this could be celliac, crohn"s or even bowel cancer, especially if diarrhoea, vomiting and weight loss are present.

2. Cramp pain in the lower abdomen with diarrhoea and possibly blood being passed within it.

This could indicate colitis or diverticulisis. The first is caused when the colon is inflamed and the second when the wall of the colon becomes infected in the bulging of the wall of the colon. The GP needs to be consulted because as well as these two nasty conditions there are other potential causes. These include the serious conditions for females of fibroids, endometriosis or even ovarian and womb cancers.

3. A fierce, burning pain around or below the breast bone, accompanied by nightime nausea.

Often experienced when hungry, this is likely to be Gastritis. Often this is the result of imbibing alcohol too generously or again having consumed some food that reacts with the sufferer. where this condition lingers for two weeks or more then GP attention is required as it could point to a stomach ulcer or even cancer.

Beyond that even, if the symptoms are non acidic but worsten when lying down and are continual, then pancreatic cancer needs to be confirmed or ruled out as soon as possible.

4. Upper stomach and gullet pains.

At the simplest this could be heartburn caused by digestive acids which breaks down foods being diverted from the stomach to the more sensitive lining of the gullet and burning it. Old fashioned remedies like Andrews Liver Salts can bring relief, as can avoiding the foods eaten prior to the onset of the symptom. At the other end of the scale it could be signaling gastric cancer and so again an early trip to the GP is essential.

5. Pain in the top right of the abdomen, especially after eating creamy or fatty meals.

The key potential problem here are Gallstones. These compressions of chloesterol can get trapped in the gall bladder causing extreme discomfort. This could lead to the need to remove the gall bladder. Those who suffer from the pain are suspect to recirrence at regular intervals. Gall bladder cancer is the ultimate possibility here.

6.Sharp and intense pain in the left and right flanks.

These could well indicate kidney malfunction. If it is hard to pass urine then a kidney stone is a likely cause. Kidney infections can be associated with fever and antibiotic treatment can be effective in this area. Stones now can be dissolved in Hospital but in certain cases surgery may be needed to remove the offending lump. Again if symptoms last over two weeks, diagnosis should be sought as there could be a developing of of more serious infection and bladder stones. Blood in the urine is a key tell tale of these conditions.

7. A transient pain going from the centre of the abdomen to the lower right side of the stomach.

These symptoms are often accompanied by nausea and feverish condition. Key suspect has to be Appendicitis and so a GP should be consulted immediately. Rapid diagnosis and removal of the appendix can save much more serious outcomes. If left the appendix will subsequently burst giving rise to peritonitis which is extremly serious and potentially life threatening


The above are conditions that beset thousands in some form daily. Taken at the earliest sign they are generally conditions which will respond quickly to the correct tratment. The more serious conditions can require extended treatments and surgery of course. However, whatever the cause, whatever the symptom there is a clear and common thread throughout. Quite simply that is not to delay but to consult a GP at an early date. Beyond even that another thread emerges and that is the "two week warning". Symptoms existing beyond two weeks require closer examination. A good GP will refer to an appropriate Consultant without delay where primary care treatment has not worked. As the stomach area carries potential large risks of potential cancers, this is vital, as the earlier the Oncologist can diagnose the exact problem, the sooner can treatment commence. Oncologists will always advise that the earlier the diagnosis, the greater the chance of a life saving treatment taking place.

So, without being in anyway a hypochondriac, if your "troublesome tummy" continues, take the initiative and let the medical profession deal with it. By so doing you may not only get rid of the discomfort but also extend your life considerably.


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