There are few feelings more painful and debilitating than that of stomach cramps, on this we can agree. Usually they are a product of food poisoning or food intolerances, diarrhea, constipation or indigestion. For every one cause there are a plethora of ways that these cramps and their associated pain can be subsided. Some take a more naturopathic approach, whilst others, pharmaceutical. As stomach cramps do not last forever, the method of pain relief you choose is probably not of great significance to the end result. Rather a matter of personal preference and efficacy. Here are some of the more popular treatments for stomach cramps:
Products like heat packs, hot towels or Tiger Balm are a great way of relaxing the muscles. That might be spasming in your abdominal region. Heat works to widen blood vessels and increase blood flow to steer excess lactic acid and other toxins away from the muscles. This is especially imperative to do after exercise. When your muscles have been tightening, so as to avoid cramps, knots and pulls that might otherwise occur.
Like ibuprofen and paracetamol, over the counter pain relievers can be a great option to block the neurotransmitters that are sending pain signals to your brain. These kinds of medication must only be taken for a very short period. As they can cause gastric ulcers and kidney damage if taken for too long. If the pain persists longer than the maximum recommended period of pain relief treatment, you should consult a doctor.
Medication like Buscopan Forte is a great way to alleviate pain from stomach cramps and the stomach cramps themselves. Buscopan Forte is an anticholinergic medicine that relieves the cramps by relaxing your digestive system. It does this by moving down the digestive tract, where the tablet interrupts the signal that tells the muscles of the digestive system to cramp. As a result, the muscles then relax and the pain alleviates.
If the stomach cramps are a product of dehydration, a fairly immediate fix like electrolytes can be extremely beneficial to alleviate the cramps. This can come in the form of a sports drink like Powerade, a banana (high in potassium). Or other electrolyte products like Hydrolites, that work similarly to sports drinks. This replaces the minerals that you can have lost, typically through things like excessive exercise and vomiting or diarrhoea. As one of the chief minerals we lose through excessive sweating is sodium. It is vital to replace it in our body as soon as we are able, as it helps us to retain fluid and evade dehydration.
Whether it is Buscopan Forte or a heat pack that you use to alleviate the pain that stomach cramps are causing you. It is important to understand the root cause of them so that they can be treated properly. Most of the stomach cramp-relieving options discussed will treat it only for a short period. As there can be many more grave reasons for acquiring stomach cramps. Any concerns should be immediately addressed with your doctor before treatment.
One of the worst instances of abdominal cramps is in those suffering from endometriosis. Too many women can attest to the chronic pain that develops alongside the arrival of their period each month. Some needing to be hospitalised as a result of the pain. In the worst cases, endometriosis sufferers need to undergo an operation to remove build up of endometrial tissue. This operation may need to be done more than once.
Although I have never been properly diagnosed with endometriosis, i am one of those women for whom period pain can be excruciating. At its worst, it has had me vomiting (often in the most inopportune places), hunched over as though I’ve just received a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Or writhing around on the floor; trying to find a position that will subdue the pain.
For those who have ever asked, I have likened the sensation to ‘someone building a house in my uterus’. Some of these instances and places have included a public bathroom on the top level of Woolworths on George Street in the CBD; in a staff bathroom, lying on the floor underneath two bathroom stalls. While my friend and colleague held a David Jones bag open for me to barf into; on a bus en route to work. Where an incredibly kind man sat next to me to make sure I was ok, even getting off at my stop to carry my bag into work for me. Yep, women go through it.
In the less severe cases, abdominal cramps can be kept at bay with anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen or aspirin. It may be easily confused with other medications that target the stomach and abdominal pain. But unless it’s an NSAID, it won’t be helpful in blocking the receptors that signal that you are in pain.
The NSAIDs work so well to dull pain associated with endometriosis because they block the onset of prostaglandins. Timing is crucial though when taking any kind of NSAID. It must be taken before the development of the pain-causing compounds in order to be effective in blocking the pain. This has been true for me in my experience with period pain. If I take a Naprogesic or Nurofen after the pain has already settled in. I will most likely vomit the medication back up – making it pretty useless for me. The best way to avoid pain is to pre-empt it, and medicate accordingly. The only other thing that has worked for me, especially after being hit with the pain, is to go to bed and sleep it off. This has been more successful than anything else.
Stomach pain and abdominal pain are often regarded as the same thing, but they must be treated differently, according to the cause. You wouldn’t use a medication like Buscopan Forte for period pain, for example. This is because this particular medication focuses on relaxing your bowels, for the purpose of improving your digestion.