It might not seem worrisome if you have a full, uncomfortable belly after a large meal, but if you're noticing weird, chronic pain or strange bowels, it could definitely indicate a larger issue. Knowing the signs of abnormal stomach pain early on can help you seek the right treatment, getting straight to the bottom of what's going on and finding some relief. Usually this comes with poor digestion and cramping, which can take away from enjoying a meal with ease.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on feeling comfortable in their skin and improving digestion, so they are regular, less bloated, and can have a positive relationship with food. When you're scared to eat, or it doesn't sit well with you, it can make it hard to socialize, and even just to grocery shop for yourself. When you're unsure of what's really going on down there, it's tough to feel reassurance that what you're eating is good for you. The best scenario: You're eating foods that actually promote better digestion and supply energy, focus, and health benefits. Even without this nutrition points, you should be able to at least tolerate your food without experiencing negative side effects. Here are a few signs of stomach pain that are totally abnormal. If you spot any, book an appointment with a doctor to figure out a diagnosis.
1. Really Bad Menstrual Cramps
Yes, you might be one of the unlucky ones who experiences uncomfortable stomach cramps each month, but there's a certain level where the pain becomes abnormal, and frankly pretty worrisome. Termed Dysmenorrhea, these sharp abdominal pains should be addressed, as they can even spread to the back.
2. Cramping That Persists
It sounds scary, and it is. If you get pretty bad bloating, cramping, and abnormal bowels, it could be linked to ovarian cancer. It's super important to not wait to see if it'll go away, as it's best to start treatment as quickly as possible and remove any traces of cancer. If pain persists past five to seven days, it's time to see the doctor.
3. Extreme Lower Abdominal Pain
If you're having really intense, lower abdominal pain, it could be linked to endometriosis, a disease that affects only women and can interfere with proper fertility. It can also increase risk for ovarian cancer: A double whammy.
4. Diarrhea That Persists
According to personal trainer and running coach Susie Lemmer over email with Bustle, if you have diarrhea that is more chronic (as opposed to once after a big drinking night or a super high-fiber meal), it could mean you have an autoimmune disorder, like IBS or Crohn's. This can be really uncomfortable and make it harder to dine out, as you'll never know what foods might be a trigger. Seeing a doctor to figure out next steps will help.
Lemmer says that bloating, on a chronic basis, can be associated with these digestive disorders, as explained above. Sure, you might feel a bit bloated after eating a salty meal, but if you're constantly puffing up after eating a variety of foods, it could mean something more serious is going on.
6. Excess Water Retention
If you're experiencing more inflammation and pain (like you're overly full or are holding onto lots of water weight that's putting added pressure on your belly), it could be linked to a digestive issue. Perhaps a food intolerance or an autoimmune disorder is at work.
Lemmer cautions against constipation, as this can be a indicator of a stomach issue that might not get resolved on its own. If you're constipated for a few days, on a regular basis, you might have IBS or Crohn's. Instead of just popping some laxatives, go see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis.
If you notice any of these signs of stomach pain or inflammation, it's best to see a doctor to discuss what's going on. Together, you'll likely come up with a treatment plan so you can get back to feeling comfortable in the day.