Queasy? Crampy? Bloated?
Tummy troubles are especially common this time of year. Here, seven reasons why -- and how to ease the pain.
Put the brakes on irritation from NSAID use by switching to a form of acetaminophen, like Tylenol, which is gentler on your stomach lining. And to help the healing, try taking OTC medications that reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces, such as Zantac or Prilosec.
If you don't feel better in two weeks, make an appointment to see your doctor, who may check you for H. pylori -- a bacteria that can cause ulcers and can be cleared up with antibiotics and acid-suppressive medications.
THE TRIGGER: You go overboard at the bar.
TUMMY TROUBLE: Severe pain that moves to your back with a fever and vomiting can mean acute pancreatitis.
Knock back too many cocktails at a big holiday bash and the result is usually a nasty hangover. But sometimes the consequence is a life-threatening condition that strikes an estimated 210,000 Americans each year: acute pancreatitis. This occurs when the pancreas, a large gland that secretes digestive enzymes, becomes inflamed, often due to an excess of alcohol. Acute pancreatitis can happen after just one night of binge drinking, or from repeatedly drinking too much alcohol. You'll know it if you have more than a hangover: An attack usually begins with a pain in your upper abdomen. It then worsens daily and begins to wrap around to your back; your belly may become very swollen and tender, and you'll have fever, vomiting, nausea, and an increased pulse rate. Get to a doctor right away, and expect a hospital stay; treatment usually requires you to receive antibiotics intravenously.
Women are 50 percent more likely than men to suffer an attack of acute pancreatitis because "we don't tolerate drinking as well as men do," says Silvia Degli-Esposti, M.D., director of Women & Infants' Center for Women's Gastrointestinal Disorders in Providence, RI. "Anything above two drinks a night is more than a woman's body can properly metabolize." So toast the holidays with a cup (or two) of good cheer -- then stop and switch to sparkling water.
THE TRIGGER: You can't resist hot cocoa or eggnog.
TUMMY TROUBLE: Nausea, gas, bloating, and/or cramping -- signs of a lactose intolerance.