Ease Any Stomach Pain
Tummy ache? Massive diarrhea? Uncontrollable gas? Here are 10 of the most common abdominal problems, and advice from the pros on how to fix 'em.
1. Stop Diarrhea
The cause: A very common cause of diarrhea is mild food poisoning. And of course, we've all heard of — or experienced firsthand — Montezuma's revenge: Traveling overseas can often bring on bouts of loose bowel movements, primarily because your body has to adjust to the new bacteria in the food and water you're consuming while away from home.
The quick fix: For food poisoning, there is no fix other than the passage of time. "You need to let your body flush itself of the toxins," says Amit Bhan, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
If diarrhea strikes at a moment when heading to the bathroom is either inconvenient (like during an important meeting) or if it's so frequent that it keeps you from sleeping, Bahn recommends knocking back some Pepto-Bismol. The pink liquid is a remedy that will attack the diarrhea-causing bacteria in your system so you can sleep and function during the day. If you're traveling overseas, take Imodium, which works by slowing down the speed at which fluids move through your intestines.
Before you look for a cure, decode your stomach symptoms.
2. Fight Farts
The cause:Though many of us try to stop or just hide our gas, it's actually one sign of a healthy body. According to Michael Wolfe, M.D., chief of gastroenterology at Boston University's School of Medicine, gas is caused by two things: eating gas-forming foods such as green vegetables, fruits with peels on them, carbonated beverages, cabbage, and beans; or swallowing air. "People [take in extra air] when they drink with straws, talk with their mouths full, or eat too fast, or when they're nervous," Wolfe says.
The quick fix: If you have a gas problem, take an over-the-counter anti-gas drug like Mylanta Gas. Beano, Wolfe says, is another good product, especially if veggies aren't friendly to your system. Beano works by breaking down raffinose, a sugar byproduct in plants that can be a bugger for many people to digest.
3. Ease Cramps
The cause: Sure, you expect cramps around the time of your period, but what about the monthly rounds of nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea?
Nancy Cossler, an obstetrician and gynecologist at University Hospital's Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, says it's pretty normal for your whole abdominal region to go haywire around the time you're menstruating.
"Hormones cause contractions of the uterine muscle, which causes cramping," she says. "It's completely normal if your stomach cramps, causing an upset stomach or diarrhea [around your period]."
You already know the crappy side effects of your period, but there are upsides to your monthly cycle, too.
The quick fix: To ease cramps and lessen bleeding, take an Advil or Ibuprofen 12 to 24 hours before you're expecting your period, Cossler says. Then take the prescribed amount every three to six hours for three days.
4. Banish Bloating
The cause: No one likes feeling two to five pounds heavier — especially when it means no longer fitting into skinny jeans. Though annoying, bloating is not a huge cause for alarm.
"Don't be too worried about [bloating]," says David C. Metz, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "Anything from menstruation to constipation can cause it."
The quick fix: Try to stay away from salt, since it makes you retain water, and avoid foods that cause gas — such as beans, broccoli, and cauliflower. As long as you've ruled out lactose intolerance, try eating yogurt with "live and active cultures" (look for this phrase on the label), which can help regulate your digestive system.
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