Muscle cramps can happen anywhere you have muscles, and that includes your stomach, where a cramp may be mistaken for a ‘generic’ bellyache, indigestion, upset stomach or side stitch.
When a muscle isn’t getting enough oxygen-carrying blood to meet its needs muscle cramps can occur. When stress, overindulgence or heavy exercise after a big meal sets the stage, your stomach can become the fall guy for cramping.
Stomach cramps are usually a painful squeezing sensation that comes and goes over a span of minutes. They crescendo up and then decrease. By the way, the squeezing sensation does not always originate in your stomach. Sometimes the trouble is further down.
Take, for example, irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, a troubling and unexplained digestive problem that can cause pain, cramps, diarrhea and constipation. What you perceive as stomach cramps are actually spasms of the intestines. You get cramps only when you have the urge to go to the bathroom with less severe cases of IBS, and they go away after you’ve defecated.
What you put in your mouth is another common cause of stomach cramps.
Lactose intolerance, or the inability to digest the sugar in dairy products, affects a third of Americans and can cause cramps.
Downing spoiled potato salad at your company picnic or any other inappropriately handled good, usually leads to a bacterial battle down below called food poisoning that features cramping, vomiting and sometimes diarrhea.
Not enough fiber or water is the leading causes of both constipation and diarrhea, often linked to cramping.
Characterized by small pouches filled with stool diverticulitis is a disease characterized by irritating bacteria that form on the muscle walls of your small bowel. It not only causes spasms and cramping but hemorrhaging as well. Another medical problem. Viral infection, can also cause cramps.
Stress also apparently plays a role in stomach cramps for children as well as adults. It doesn’t cause the cramps, but it can bring them on.
By eating the right foods and keeping stress under control, you can minimize the possibility of stomach cramps.
- Get wise to water. Pour on the water, when constipation is causing stomach cramps. Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. That’s eight ounce glasses! That should help make you regular in no time.
- Sometimes watching what you eat can manage stomach cramps. So, eat small, portions of high fiber whole foods. Boosting fiber can help not only to end constipation and diarrhea but also to control diverticulitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Colas make a tense stomach only worse. Use water instead of cola or try fresh juices or a taming natural tea like fennel, lemon balm, valerian, chamomile or ginger.
- Try walking. If you’re feeling full after a sumptuous repast, try ‘walking it off.’ Light exercise, especially walking, helps speed the movement of digested food through your bowels. By allowing the stomach to empty faster this may reduce stomach cramps.
- Sage may help with stomach cramps because it improves digestion. Leaving out cooked dairy products may also help. Try raw dairy or soy instead. Essential oil of peppermint and rosemary also may soothe cramps.