How Can I Prevent Belly Pain?

Stomach pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp twinge. It can make you feel nauseous, bloated, or full. You might have gas or diarrhea, or you might be constipated. It can bother you for a short while or for hours.

With so many kinds of belly pain, it’s no surprise that different things can cause it. Some are out of your control, like if you have appendicitis. But you can change a few habits to make other kinds less likely to happen.

Slow Down

If you tend to take big bites and eat without chewing well, you can swallow air, which adds gas to your stomach and can lead to stomach pain. Take time to chew slowly and swallow without rushing. This also gives your brain time to realize you’re full before you eat too much.

Change How Often You Eat

Some people get belly pain between meals, when there’s no buffer for the acid in your stomach. If this happens, eat smaller meals or snacks spaced out throughout the day so your stomach isn’t empty for long periods.

The opposite also can cause stomach pain. If you eat so much that you feel stuffed, your stomach is likely to hurt.

Watch What You Eat

Fatty, fried, or spicy foods could be behind your stomach woes. They can wreak havoc on your gut as your body digests them. They also can slow down the process and make you more likely to get constipated.

If you eat more nutritious foods, with a focus on veggies and fiber, you’ll digest things at a healthy speed, and your stomach will thank you.

Follow Your Hunches

If you notice your stomach always cramps up after you drink a glass of milk or eat a certain thing, see your doctor. You might have a problem with dairy products (called lactose intolerance) or another kind of food. If your doctor finds an issue in your diet, she can help you find ways to stay away from it or eat less of it.

It’s a good idea to work with your doctor on this instead of trying to figure it out on your own. You could get on the wrong track and miss out on nutrients from some foods without really needing to.

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Drink More Water, Less Soda

Water helps keep things moving in your gut so you stay regular. Pay attention to your body when you’re thirsty, and have a glass of water, not soda. Carbonation can cause stomach pain because the fizz can lead to gas.

Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages can cause trouble for some people, too, so steer clear of them if they bother your stomach.

Wash Your Hands

A common cause of stomach pain is gastroenteritis, sometimes called a stomach bug or a stomach virus. It can cause diarrhea, nausea, fever, or a headache, too.

The best way to prevent the spread of germs is to wash your hands often, especially before you eat, after you go to the bathroom, and when you’ve been in public places.

Manage Stress

Some people feel their hearts race or their palms sweat when they’re stressed or anxious. And plenty of people have stomach pain. They may feel their stomachs churn or seem to tie up in knots.

The obvious answer is to stay out of stressful situations when you can. Since that’s not always possible, you can ease stress with things like exercise, meditation, hobbies, or hanging out with friends. If those don’t work, it might help to talk with your doctor or a therapist about ways to manage it.

When to See Your Doctor

You can’t prevent all types of stomach pain, and in some cases, you may need medicine, surgery, or another kind of treatment. If you have sharp or severe stomach pain, get medical help right away. Some things that can cause these include:

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on May 22, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Stomach virus (gastroenteritis).”

American College of Gastroenterology: “Abdominal pain syndrome.”

Mayo Clinic: “Food allergy vs. food intolerance: What’s the difference?” “Nonulcer stomach pain.”

Nemours Foundation: “Digestive system,” “Stomachaches.”

© 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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