What Is Gastric Pain?
Gastric pain may be a symptom of several conditions originating from the middle to upper region of the abdomen. While it may be difficult to tell if the gastric pain you are experiencing is something serious, it is recommended that you seek medical advice if the pain remains persistent.
Gastric pain may also be a sign of a bacterial infection in the stomach or stomach ulcers.
What Are the Symptoms of Gastric Pain?
If you are experiencing gastric pain, you may feel a dull ache in your upper stomach. In some cases, gastric pain may also be more severe pain in the stomach due to excess acid in the stomach causing ulcers.
In Singapore, gastric pain is common in many adults, as you may have experienced it at some point in your life. The symptoms may also be accompanied by other related digestive issues such as diarrhoea, heartburn, constipation, and black or red stools.
You may also experience bloating and excessive gas, especially before consumption of food.
What Causes Gastric Pain?
Various causes may trigger gastric pain, and not all of them may be indicative of a condition.
In some cases, the causes of gastric pain may not be evident, as stress may also lead to gastric pain. Determining the actual cause of the pain may not be so straightforward. It is essential to realise the signs that you be experiencing could be due to a condition that you are unaware of, especially if the symptoms persist. It is advisable to seek professional medical advice before the pain worsens. Our doctor may then recommend investigations to determine the cause of the pain.
With that said, gastric pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, and each of them may display different characteristics. Here are some indicative signs you can look out for:
Most people with H.Pylori infections may not experience any symptoms. In cases where the infection leads to the development of inflammation or ulcers in the stomach, symptoms such as abdominal or gastric pain may be experienced. This experience may come and go but are generally felt more when the stomach is empty.
Other symptoms that may arise due to an H.Pylori infection may include excessive burping, bloatedness, feelings of nausea, heartburn, and loss of appetite.
Most people who have stomach ulcers may not experience any symptoms until the condition worsens. However, those that do may notice persistent burning in the stomach that occurs on and off, especially when you are hungry.
Other symptoms that may arise from stomach ulcers may include heartburn, bloating, intolerance to acidic food, nausea, and blood in stools and vomiting of blood in severe cases.
Stomach cancers (or gastric cancers) are often hard to detect when an individual is only experiencing gastric pain. They may often be overlooked as something minor. However, it is necessary to recognise that the main characteristics indicative of stomach cancer are that pain may persist over weeks. The individual may also experience sudden weight loss, change in bowel habits, or even notice that they have blood in stools resulting in black stools.
Blood in stools suggests that there might be bleeding in the stomach, causing the food that passes through the digestive tract to be mixed with the blood, resulting in black stools. If you notice this in your stools, you are advised to seek medical advice immediately.
When Is It Necessary to Consult a Doctor for Gastric Pain?
Gastric pain may not be an immediate sign of something serious. However, you are recommended to seek medical attention if you are experiencing:
- Prolonged periods of pain or burning sensation in the stomach
- Sudden weight loss
- Frequent vomiting or signs of nausea
- Coughing of blood
- Black stools
- Blood in stools
How Can the Cause of Gastric Pain Be Diagnosed?
Diagnosing gastric pain can be tricky as it may be stress-induced or caused by irregularity in meals leading to discomfort. Our doctor may suggest a gastroscopy (also known as upper gastrointestinal tract endoscopy) to accurately diagnose the condition.
A gastroscopy is an investigation of the oesophagus and stomach from the mouth to the start of the small intestine. This uses a tiny camera mounted at the end of a thin, flexible tube. It makes detection of conditions associated with stomach cancer much easier, such as inflammation and ulcers, as well as bacteria that increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Our doctor may also recommend imaging tests such as ultrasound and a CT scan to view the structure and organs within the abdomen. This can help your doctor identify signs of large tumours or inflammation present in the organs.
Samples such as blood or stool may also be taken to investigate for possible signs of bacterial, parasitic, or viral infections.
How Can Gastric Pain Be Prevented?
Gastric pain can be prevented with proper care to your digestive system. Stress and irregularity in your mealtimes are some of the leading causes of gastric pain.
While the symptoms can be treated with antacids, adopting lifestyle and dietary changes may prove more effective in managing your condition. To prevent gastric pain, consider:
- Eating at regular intervals
- Not skipping your meals
- Avoiding overeating (consuming two meals in one)
- Taking alcohol in moderation
- Stop smoking
- Avoiding acidic food that may irritate the stomach (overly spicy, oily or carbonated drinks, high doses of coffee or vinegar)