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What are the Different Causes of a Stomach Ache?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

The causes of a stomach ache can be tricky to determine because the term stomach ache can refer to so many different types of pain in the abdominal area, rather than simply pain in the stomach itself. The stomach muscles, for example, can cause a painful sensation when strained, as can intestinal pain or even gas. When referring specifically to the stomach, however, the causes of a stomach ache are more limited. Indigestion is one of the more common causes, as are food allergies. More serious diagnoses include ulcers and even cancer.

One of the most unpleasant causes of a stomach ache is food poisoning, which can be caused by undercooked meats or bacteria present in ingested foods. While food poisoning can be fatal, more often it is simply painful and extremely unpleasant. It is sometimes accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, as well as other maladies such as headaches or body aches. To avoid food poisoning, one should be aware of where his or her food is coming from. People who eat frequently at restaurants are more at risk of food poisoning than people who frequently cook at home, though food poisoning can occur in any population.

Salmonella, a common cause of food poisoning, can cause a stomach ache.
Salmonella, a common cause of food poisoning, can cause a stomach ache.

Food allergies are one of the more common causes of a stomach ache. The body can have adverse reactions to some foods, and while the allergy might be a mild one, a sufferer can feel a painful sensation during the digestion process. More serious allergies can be fatal, but most are not. Lactose intolerance, for example, is an adverse reaction to dairy products in which the sufferer may become bloated and feel gassy or achy. Peanuts are another common food allergy that can cause severe discomfort or even death.

An illustration of a human stomach.
An illustration of a human stomach.

Obstructions can also be causes of a stomach ache. Tumors can grow in the stomach, restricting the normal functions of the stomach. Malignant tumors in the stomach are known as stomach cancer, and this illness can be fatal. The sufferer will feel intense pain in the stomach, and other body functions may suffer as well. This is considered a serious illness and should be dealt with immediately by a doctor or other professional.

If stomach pain lasts a few days, it may be best to see a doctor.
If stomach pain lasts a few days, it may be best to see a doctor.

Countless other causes of a stomach ache exist, and while many stomach aches can be cured with over the counter medications, others may require special medical attention. If the pain is constant for more than a day, or it recurs over the course of several days, the sufferer may want to consider visiting a doctor to discover the cause of the pain.

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    • Salmonella, a common cause of food poisoning, can cause a stomach ache.
      By: Lyuba Bunakova
      Salmonella, a common cause of food poisoning, can cause a stomach ache.
    • An illustration of a human stomach.
      By: pixologic
      An illustration of a human stomach.
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      By: PictureP.
      If stomach pain lasts a few days, it may be best to see a doctor.
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      Many prescription medications list stomach discomfort as a possible side effect.
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      An ulcer can be a more serious cause of a stomach ache.
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      A stomach ache might be caused by contaminated drinking water.