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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to Cure Stomach Cramps - wikiHow

How to Cure Stomach Cramps

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Stomach cramps are painful but it's possible to relieve them using at home remedies easily and effectively. There are many possible causes of stomach cramps, and they can affect or emanate from your digestive organs, your aorta, your appendix, your kidneys, or your spleen, or they can originate from an infection elsewhere in your body.[1] Cramps are commonplace for some women during their menstrual cycle, although exercises can often alleviate such pain. The strength of pain does not necessarily indicate seriousness; very painful cramps can be caused by gas passing through your digestive system harmlessly, whereas life-threatening conditions such as colon cancer and early appendicitis can produce mild or even no pain,[2] so care needs to be taken not to judge the cramp severity according to your pain level. This article provides a range of possible remedies for your cramps, and naturally, if you don't get any relief, see your doctor.

edit Steps

Pinpointing the source of your cramps

  1. 1
    Try to pinpoint the area of your pain, or rely on your familiarity with the type of cramps. Doing this is important from the point of view of knowing how to treat them or knowing whether a doctor's visit is essential. Abdominal pain is considered to be pain felt anywhere from below your ribs to your pelvis.[3] The following indicators might assist you:
    • Menstrual cramps are clearly experienced only by girls and women of menstruating age. These cramps usually occur in the first days of menstruation and do not last more than a few days.
    • Sharp, localized pains that stab or pierce, can be a sign of a very serious condition such as appendicitis or a ruptured organ.
    • A dull, generally spread pain might be indicative that your cramps, while painful, are not dangerous.[4]
    • Lower back pain that persists might be a sign of kidney stones. See your doctor for advice.
    • Pain and burning sensations on urinating or passing stools can be a sign of a urinary tract infection or constipation.
    • Cramps that appear following eating a large amount of food quickly, greasy food, foods you're allergic to, etc., can indicate a digestive system reaction.
    • Muscle spasm can bring about cramps when exercising or swimming.


  1. 1
    Use breathing to divert your attention from the pain and to help relax you. This method can be effective for mild cramps.
  2. 2
    Sit in a comfortable chair like a recliner. Think about something pleasant.
  3. 3
    Focus on your breathing. Use a fast and shallow breathing rate, following a 1-2 (breath in fast, breath out fast) rhythm.
  4. 4
    Continue until you notice some improvement or don't feel like doing this any longer. Don't overdo it, however.
  5. 5
    Rest. The more rest, the better.

Fluids and foods

It's important to avoid overloading your digestive system with food that will add to the digestive burden. Keep things simple (bland) for a while until the cramps pass; if you experience any vomiting, don't eat until 6 hours have passed.[5]

  1. 1
    Avoid any complex drinks, alcohol, or any caffeinated or carbonated drink.[6] Sip water or clear fluids.[7]
  2. 2
    Don't eat solid food while you have the cramps or for a few hours following. When you resume eating again, eat simple items such as rice, applesauce, bananas, toast, or plain crackers.[8]
    • Don't eat dairy products, acidic foods such as tomatoes and fast food (greasy foods).


Easy exercise can aid in cramp relief.

  1. 1
    Try to exercise away the cramps. Take a walk around your house, or in the garden. This can be helpful when you find that sitting or lying down is uncomfortable. It's not advised to walk too far from a bathroom, though, just in case the cramps are signaling the onset of diarrhea.
  2. 2
    Do some light abdominal curls to loosen up your abdominal muscles if the cramps are in your abdominal muscles rather than in your digestive tract.
  3. 3
    Try yoga. If you're familiar with yoga, consider some poses that open up the abdominal region. Depending where the cramps are - consider fish pose or reclining hero. Downward facing dog can also be helpful.

Home remedies

  1. 1
    Place a heating pad, heated wheat bag, or hot water bottle on your back to give temporary relief. While some advice suggests that you do not to apply the heating pad to your abdomen in case this brings on nausea, other advice considers this to be appropriate.[9] Decide on which approach best suits your needs through your knowledge of your own preferences and responses to the application of heat.
  2. 2
    Lie down for a few minutes and relax. Close your eyes. Place a cool moist washcloth over your forehead.
  3. 3
    Breath slowly and evenly, trying to keep your mind off the pain. Keep relaxing and perhaps even allow yourself to drift off to sleep.
  4. 4
    Allow yourself to pass gas, even if you are in polite company. It may be somewhat embarrassing, but you do not want to allow yourself to become bloated or let the cramps become more serious and painful.
  5. 5
    Take a soak in a warm bath.[10] Don't make it too hot; just comfortable. And leave as soon as you feel you've had enough; if it's not helping, try something else.

Over-the-counter medications

  1. 1
    Take over-the-counter medications. There is a range of over-the-counter remedies aimed at helping with cramps. Their effectiveness will depend on the reason for your cramps and purchasing the right product. It is recommended that you check the labels carefully and ask the pharmacist for advice on a specific product.
    • Some products are aimed at relieving the pressure from gas build-up, such as Gas-ex.
    • H2 blockers (e.g., Tagamet, Pepcid, or Zantac) help to relieve gas and quell cramps.
    • Emitrol or Imodium are aimed at relieving cramps associated with diarrhea.
    • Over-the-counter antacids such as Pepto-Bismol may help some stomach related pains.[11]
  2. 2
    Take a mild laxative to encourage a bowel movement for relief, if constipation is causing the cramps.
  3. 3
    Do not take aspirin, ibuprofen, or any other anti-inflammatory medications or narcotic pain medications unless your doctor has seen you and has prescribed these; they can worsen some stomach pains.[12] If you know that the source of your cramps is menstrual, however, ant-inflammatories can be taken.[13] Acetaminophen is acceptable if you are certain that your pain is not related to your liver.[14]


  1. 1
    Take good care of your digestive system
    Take good care of your digestive system
    Notice if there is any food that seems to disagree with your digestive system. If you suffer from cramps often, this may be indicative of an intolerance to certain foods. It is advisable to keep a food diary and try to determine if there is an association with a certain food or group of foods and your stomach cramps.
    • Milk and milk products may cause cramps and stomach pain in persons who are lactose intolerant.[15]
    • Failing to drink sufficient liquids may cause stomach and muscle cramps. This can be exacerbated by strenuous exercise.
    • Eating an excessive amount of non-soluble fiber may cause cramps associated with constipation.
    • Some people are sensitive to uncooked vegetables and fruits, particularly if the peels are not removed.
    • Limit gas-producing goods (e.g., beans, fatty foods, dairy products).
  2. 2
    Exercise regularly. Try to include stretching as part of your exercise routine.
  3. 3
    Keep stress levels under control. If the condition coincides with stressful situations, try to avoid stress as much as possible, and look at learning stress management techniques.

edit Video


edit Tips

  • Concentrate on something else, and don't think about the pain!
  • If you're not on your menstrual cycle then you may wish to see your doctor.
  • Try herb teas like chamomile, peppermint, and fennel.
  • If you have time then go take a nap.
  • Try drinking water to ease the pain.
  • Look into the possibility that you might be suffering from a condition or a disease that causes cramping. Some of the conditions or diseases that can cause cramping include: Crohn's Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcers, diverticulitis, bowel obstruction, pancreatitis, ulcerative colitis, urinary infections, cancers, or hernias.[16] Ask for your doctor's advice and and seek medical testing and treatment options if this turns out to be an issue. Every one of these possibilities is serious.
  • Poisoning can cause severe abdominal pain, including animal bites (spiders, etc.).

edit Warnings

  • Stomach cramps may be a symptom of a serious medical condition like food poisoning, disease, or allergies. If you experience fever, severe nausea, or sweating, seek medical help. This is especially true if someone else suffers the same symptoms after a shared meal.
  • Don't go overboard with the exercises. Only do them one to three times, and quit if the pain increases.
  • Prolonged or frequent cramps, especially associated with loose stools or diarrhea may indicate a serious medical condition.
  • Diarrhea associated with stomach cramps may cause dehydration, which can lead to shock or even death. Drink an electrolyte solution like Pedialyte, or a clear, low carbohydrate sports drink frequently if you experience diarrhea for an extended period of time.
  • See a doctor immediately if you're vomiting blood, or pass blood in a stool, you're pregnant (or might be), your stomach is rigid and tender to touch, your abdomen has been injured recently, you can't breath well, or you have chest, neck, or shoulder pain. [17]
  • See a doctor if you've experienced abdominal discomfort lasting more than a week or pain for more than 24-48 hours, bloating for over 2 days, a fever, any burning sensation on urinating, diarrhea longer than 5 days, poor appetite, or unexplained weight loss.[18]
  • Any baby under 3 months that vomits or has diarrhea should be seen by a doctor immediately.

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edit Sources and Citations

  1. MedLine Plus,
  2. MedLine Plus,
  3. Better Health Channel, Abdominal pain,
  4. Wisegeek, What Are the Most Common Causes of Stomach Cramps?,
  5. MedLine Plus,
  6. Better Health Channel, Abdominal pain,
  7. MedLine Plus,
  8. MedLine Plus,
  9. Better Health Channel, Abdominal pain,
  10. Better Health Channel, Abdominal pain,
  11. eMedicineHealth, Abdominal Pain in Adults,
  12. MedLine Plus,
  13. Wisegeek, What Are the Most Common Causes of Stomach Cramps?,
  14. MedLine Plus,
  15. MedLine Plus,
  16. Wisegeek, What causes abdominal cramping?,
  17. MedLine Plus,
  18. MedLine Plus,

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Last edited:
October 2, 2010 by Eric

Featured Articles | Intestinal and Digestive Health

Recent edits by: Katy, Leona, Wdt3223 (see all)

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