There are many possible causes of stomach cramps and they can affect or emanate from your digestive organs, your appendix, your aorta, your kidneys, or your spleen, or they can originate from an infection elsewhere in your body. Stomach cramps are painful but it is possible to relieve them using home remedies easily and effectively.
Finding the Source of Your Stomach Cramps
Try to pinpoint the area of your pain. Doing this is important from the point of view of knowing how to treat them or knowing whether a doctor’s visit is essential. Abdominal pain is considered to be pain felt anywhere from below your ribs to your pelvis. The following indicators might assist you:
- Sharp, localized pains that stab or pierce can be a sign of a very serious condition such as appendicitis or a ruptured organ.
- A dull, generally-spread pain might be indicative that your cramps, while painful, are not dangerous, but may require off the counter medication.
- Menstrual cramps are clearly experienced only by those of menstruating age. These cramps usually occur in the first days of menstruation and do not last more than a few days.
- Stomach cramps after eating a large amount of food quickly, greasy food, foods you’re allergic to, etc., can indicate a digestive system reaction.
- Lower back pain that persists might be a sign of kidney stones. See your doctor for advice.
- Pain and burning sensations on urinating or passing stools can be a sign of a urinary tract infection or constipation.
- Muscle spasms can bring about cramps when exercising or swimming.
How to Get Rid of Stomach Cramps
Don’t eat solid food while you have the cramps or for a few hours following. When you resume eating again, eat simple items such as rice, applesauce, bananas, toast, or plain crackers.
- Don’t eat dairy products, acidic foods such as tomatoes, and fast food (greasy foods).
Eat small meals. Large meals can also strengthen intestinal contractions. Aim to eat small meals frequently throughout your day so as to not strain your system.
Avoid any complex drinks, alcohol, or any caffeinated or carbonated drink. Sip water or clear fluids.
Avoid fatty foods. Fatty foods contain substances that can exaggerate the strength of intestinal contractions, thus resulting in increased stomach ache and cramping. Aim to eat low-fat meals, avoiding anything greasy, fried or fatty.
Avoid overloading your digestive system with food that will add to the digestive burden. Keep things simple (bland) for a while until the cramps pass; if you experience any vomiting, don’t eat until 6 hours have passed.
Go to the restroom. It may seem impossible, but sometimes all a stomach ache is asking for is a good, solid bowel movement.
Try to exercise the cramps away. Take a walk around your house, or in the garden. This can be helpful when you find that sitting or lying down is uncomfortable. It’s not advised to walk too far from a bathroom, though, just in case the cramps are signaling the onset of diarrhea.
Try yoga. If you’re familiar with yoga, consider some poses that open up the abdominal region. Depending where the cramps are, consider fish pose or reclining hero. Downward facing dog can also be helpful. But if your cramps are muscular in nature, exercise your abdominal muscles at another time and merely stretch them in the cobra pose.
Do not do abdominal exercises if you are experiencing a cramp in your stomach muscles (rectus abdominus). If you can quickly get into the cobra pose and stretch your cramping muscles, you may be able to completely avoid the intense pain, that follows a cramp that was not stretched, and also avoid the pain of a muscle, that was not stretched, two or three days after the severe cramp. Do abdominal muscle exercises at another time when your muscles are no longer hurting.
Keep warm and wear an additional piece of clothing around your torso area like a vest. If you are at home, quickly go to the shower and take a warm to hot shower to warm up your abdominal muscles and to avoid the muscular cramp completely.
Home Remedies for Stomach Cramps & Aches
Eat probiotics and fermented foods. Probiotics come in many forms and have been reported to significantly relieve stomach aches. Kombucha, yogurt, kefir and lacto-fermented vegetables are all good sources of probiotics.
Make an apple cider vinegar and honey elixir. An old folk recipe with a lot of modern praise, it may not work for everyone, but, if you feel up for it, give it a shot — it might be just what your stomach needs. Try mixing a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. Drink up!
Enjoy some mint. Fresh peppermint tea (or just peppermint tea in general) can help relax stomach muscles. It also helps improve the flow of bile, which helps you digest properly. This is especially useful if suffering from indigestion or bloating.
- Cover the peppermint with 1 cup of boiling water, cover, and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Sip slowly while it’s still toasty warm. If using the fresh peppermint leaves, you can chew on them as well to ease stomach pains. You can also just use a pre-made teabag if you find that more desirable.
Make cinnamon tea. Gently boil two cups of water and two cinnamon sticks together for 15-20 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and pour into a mug or glass. Add a tablespoon of honey for sweetness.
Make peppermint tea. Some people prefer peppermint tea to cinnamon tea. Both will help relieve your stomach ache and help you relax.
Make caraway tea. Gently boil two cups of water and two teaspoons of caraway seeds together for 15-20 minutes. Strain the liquid into glass and add a tablespoon of honey for sweetness. Or, consume caraway oil. Caraway oil is often used for digestive ailments including stomach aches and intestinal spasms.
Consume ginger. Upset stomachs can benefit from ginger, which is used as a way to treat nausea and relieve indigestion. Eat it raw, make a tea or buy ginger capsules.
Consume fennel. Ever wonder why Indian dishes often use fennel seed? It works to get rid of gas and aid indigestion. Try eating a spoonful of fennel seeds or making a fennel seed tea.
Drink club soda and lime. Like lemon, lime can help ease an aching tummy. Combine the lime with club soda and you have an easy drink to sip on to wash away the pain. If you have stomach ache after eating, the carbonation in club soda will encourage you to burp, therefore relieving pressure in your belly. It has been shown to help greatly with indigestion and constipation.
- Mix 8 ounces of club soda with the juice of half a lime. Stir and sip slowly.
Try rice water. Rice water is exactly what it sounds like-the water left-over after you cook rice. It acts a demulcent, meaning a substance that relieves inflammation by forming a sort of soothing barrier over a membrane, in this case, the lining of your stomach.
- Cook your rice with twice the amount of water you normally would for your chosen amount. Put your rice in a pot on the stove and add the water, cooking over medium-low heat. As the rice starts to become tender, remove it from the heat and let it soak for 3 minutes with the lid on the pan.
- Drain and drink the water warm, adding a smidge of honey if needed.
Eat a serving of papaya, pomegranate or pineapple. The enzymes in these fruits have been taken orally for centuries to relieve stomach pain. However, don’t over do it. These same fruits, in large quantities, are known to cause stomach aches.
Lie down for a few minutes and relax. Close your eyes. Place a cool moist washcloth over your forehead.
Place a heating pad, heated wheat bag, or hot water bottle on your back to give temporary relief. While some advice suggests that you do not to apply the heating pad to your abdomen in case this brings on nausea, other advice considers this to be appropriate. Decide on which approach best suits your needs through your knowledge of your own preferences and responses to the application of heat.
Allow yourself to pass gas, even if you are in polite company. It may be somewhat embarrassing, but you do not want to allow yourself to become bloated or let your stomach cramps become more serious and painful.
Breathe slowly and evenly, trying to keep your mind off the pain. Keep relaxing and perhaps even allow yourself to drift off to sleep.
Try to sleep. If you are able, take a nap. In most cases, your stomach ache will be gone when you wake up. If you can’t fall asleep, try to rest on your back, letting your stomach stretch out.
Massage your stomach. Slowly apply pressure with two fingers in a circular motion along your lower and upper abdomen.
Take a warm shower or bath. Resting your body, warming your organs and calming your mind can all help with a stomach ache. Sometimes stomach pain comes as a reaction to a stressful day.
Medical Solutions for Stomach Cramps & Aches
Take bismuth subsalicylate. This works as an antidiarrheal, so if you have the runs this is what you should take. Pepto-Bismol is the most common brand, but you can find other brand names with similar ingredients sold over-the-counter at the drug store.
Take simethicone. If you feel bloated, stimethicone is an over-the-counter anti-bloating remedy that should help clear out any excess gas.
- To find out if gas is your problem, try massaging your stomach and listening for gurgling sounds. Hear them? You probably have some excess gas in there. Simethicone can help clear it out.
- You can also use this medication if you have stomach pain after eating.
Take anti-inflammatory medications. Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory to ease stomach pain. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen decrease swelling and pain.
- Tums and Milk of Magnesia (Magnesium Hydroxide) are the most common brands, but you can find other brand names with similar ingredients at the drug store.
How to Prevent Stomach Cramps
Keep stress levels under control. If the condition coincides with stressful situations, try to avoid stress as much as possible, and look at learning stress management techniques.
Manage your weight. When you carry extra pounds around your mid-section, your stomach gets pushed upward and acid backs up into your esophagus. To lose weight, get some regular exercise, and cook healthily.
Exercise regularly. Try to include stretching as part of your exercise routine.
Notice if there is any food that seems to disagree with your digestive system. If you suffer from stomach cramps often, this may be indicative of an intolerance to certain foods. It is advisable to keep a food diary and try to determine if there is an association with a certain food or group of foods and your stomach cramps.
- Failing to drink sufficient liquids may cause stomach cramps. This can be exacerbated by strenuous exercise.
- Eating an excessive amount of non-soluble fiber may cause cramps associated with constipation.
- Milk and milk products may cause cramps and stomach pain in people who are lactose intolerant.
- Some people are sensitive to uncooked vegetables and fruits, particularly if the peels are not removed.
- Limit gas-producing goods (e.g. beans, fatty foods, dairy products).
- If you have liver disease, consult your physician before taking anti-inflammatories, as these medications may harm liver function when used long-term.
- Diarrhea associated with stomach cramps may cause dehydration, which can lead to shock or even death. Drink an electrolyte solution like Pedialyte or a clear, low-carbohydrate sports drink frequently if you experience diarrhea for an extended period of time.
- Prolonged or frequent cramps, especially associated with loose stools or diarrhea, may indicate a serious medical condition.
- Stomach cramps may be a symptom of a serious medical condition like food poisoning, disease, or allergies. If you experience fever, severe nausea, or sweating, seek medical help. This is especially true if someone else suffers the same symptoms after a shared meal.
- See a doctor immediately if you’re vomiting blood, or pass blood in a stool, you’re pregnant (or might be), your stomach is rigid and tender to touch, your abdomen has been injured recently, you can’t breathe well, or you have chest, neck, or shoulder pain.
- See a doctor if you have experienced abdominal discomfort lasting more than a week or pain for more than 24-48 hours, bloating for over 2 days, a fever, any burning sensation on urinating, diarrhea longer than 5 days, poor appetite, or unexplained weight loss.
- Look into the possibility that you might be suffering from a condition or a disease that causes cramping. Some of the conditions or diseases that can cause cramping include Crohn’s Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcers, diverticulitis, bowel obstruction, pancreatitis, ulcerative colitis, urinary infections, cancers, and hernias. Ask for your doctor’s advice and seek medical testing and treatment options if this turns out to be an issue. Every one of these possibilities is serious.
- Add a drop of peppermint oil to a glass of warm water and drink. The mint oil aids digestion and can ease stomach cramps.
- Lay on your right side and close your eyes. Breath slowly and remember something happy or just listen to music. This is very relaxing and a huge distraction from the pain.
- Try herbal teas like chamomile, peppermint, and fennel.
- Poisoning can cause severe abdominal pain, including animal bites.
- Listen to music so you are distracted from the pain.
- Concentrate on something else, and don’t think about the pain!
- Lay on your left side for several minutes. Do not lay on your stomach.
- Lay on your back, keep hands on your side, legs straight, close your eyes, breathe slow and calm, thinking about good things. This can be a memory, an experience or even a song.