Home » Health Conditions » Stomach Problems » Abdominal Cramps

How to Relieve Abdominal Cramps

  • Abdominal cramps can be accompanied by other symptoms, such as
  • Stomach belching may be one way to relieve built-up intestinal gas in the digestive system
  • The pain can usually be lessened with home remedies or over-the-counter medications

An abdominal cramp occurs when there is stretching and the straining of the involuntary muscles of the stomach. It is characterized by the presence of stomach pain which can range from a mild ache to severe stabbing pains, depending on the actual cause of the cramps. Other symptoms of abdominal cramps are stomach belching, stomach flatulence and rumbling and gurgling noises.

What Medical Ailments Cause Abdominal Pain?

There are a lot of possible causes, but some of the more common ones are gastritis (when the pain occurs high in the abdominal area and usually after eating meals), appendicitis (a dull pain starts around the stomach area then moves to the lower right part of the abdomen), gallbladder disease, food poisoning, diarrhea, constipation, intestinal gas and bloating and even stress.

Treating the Discomfort

Abdominal cramps, at its mildest, is irritating and we often can’t wait to seek relief from it. Over the counter medicines, herbal preparations and exercises abound but before popping a pill or drinking any medicine, make sure that the cause is already determined because some remedies might cause unfavourable reactions.

For milder forms of abdominal cramps, here is a list of treatments that can be applied to relieve pain:

• Over the counter antacids in tablet or liquid form are effective for immediate relief of stomach pain from gastritis. Popular brands are Tums, Maalox and Pepto Bismol.
• Anti-motility medications (like Imodium) are prescribed for people suffering from diarrhea. This type of medicine also offers relief from abdominal cramps due to its muscle relaxing properties. Another solution to diarrhea and intestinal gas is a vegetable form of carbon called activated charcoal capsules. Simethicone is another OTC drug that is helpful in reducing stomach flatulence.
• Acetaminophen, a pain reliever, may only be taken by people who have ascertained that the cause for their abdominal pain is not liver-related.

Home Remedies to Try

There are several practical at home solutions for abdominal pain. You can simply sip water or other clear liquids like diluted fruit juices. Avoid solid food for about 6 hours and then eat small quantities of mild foods like applesauce and crackers. Activities like walking around the house or busying yourself with household tasks can help keep your mind distracted from the pain.
Applying a heating pad to your lower back to provide temporary relief from the pain is another option. But do not apply heat directly on abdomen as this might cause nausea. Alternatively, a soak in a tub full of warm water usually eases body aches, too.

If pain is due to build up of intestinal gas, simply passing gas by burping or flatulence can greatly improve your condition. To prevent gas build-up, avoid oily and fatty foods as well as foods that produce gas when consumed (for example beans, cabbages, onions, carbonated drinks, milk and milk products).
Stress management techniques are also recommended to relieve abdominal pain caused by stress. Focused breathing exercises where fast and shallow breaths are done in a 1-2 rhythm can calm fraught nerves. A cup of calming peppermint or chamomile tea won’t hurt either.

When to Seek Medical Attention

It is advisable to seek urgent medical attention if the abdominal pain persists or gets worse or if any of the following are symptoms are also present: fever, vomiting, vaginal bleeding or chest pain. Severe illnesses with abdominal pain require immediate medical attention.

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.