Holiday Stomach Pain and Bloating

Holiday Stomach Pain and Bloating – Is it Serious?

The holidays are a wonderful time where we spend more time with friends and family. It’s also a time where we eat lots of different foods we don’t normally eat.  Whether you love the holidays or dread the holidays one thing is for sure, that when we break our routine of eating, sleeping and drinking there is a greater chance of not feeling well. Is your holiday stomach pain and bloating serious and how can you tell?

Last Thanksgiving over thirty-six thousand people went to the emergency room that day.  Emergency room visits spike up to 12% over the holiday season in New York City.  In Kansas City one doctor estimates that his patient load climbs to 15% on Christmas Day.emergency visit

Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control show that people are not getting more injured during the holiday season, rather there are more cases of people eating the wrong thing, mistaking gastrointestinal issues with heart issues, food poisoning or problems related to too much alcohol.  People also do not take their daily medications with the rush of the holidays. The holidays can also bring on or exacerbate depression and other mood disorders needing attention and treatment.

To Be Clear:

Many hospital visits around the holiday time are for very real emergencies due to the excessive drinking and ultra-rich food that can precipitate a heart attack. Because of changes in routines, people delay in seeking treatment which compounds health outcomes. Heart-related deaths increase by 5 percent over the holidays. Fatal heart attacks peak on Christmas and the day after as well as New Year’s Day according to the journal Circulation.

Health emergencies over the holidays are a very real phenomenon not to be taken lightly and any change in your health or pain that is unusual should be checked out immediately.

With that said, this article will go over some common gastrointestinal issues that are very prevalent during the holiday season and what you can look out for, avoid, and some simple remedies.

Your Gastrointestinal Tract

A basic rundown of your gastrointestinal tract. The food you eat travels to your stomach from the esophagus. Digestion_largeThe esophageal sphincter at the base of the esophagus and the start of your stomach protects your esophagus from the acid in your stomach. The stomach breaks down food into chyme. The digestion of proteins takes place in the stomach along with a bit of carbohydrate. Most digestion takes place in the small intestines though. The chyme travels through the pyloric valve and into the small intestine where enzymes break down the food so it is absorbed into the bloodstream.  Whatever is not digested and absorbed into the body is now passed to the large intestine or colon where a stool is formed for excretion through the rectum and out the anus.

The small intestine has three parts to it.  The upper intestine is the duodenum, the middle part is the jejunum and the end is the ileum.

Now that you have an idea of the intestinal tract, you can determine where your pain is and understand better what may be happening.

Pain or Burning In The Throat Or In The Chest Area

esophagus

The most common pain in this area is usually associated with heartburn or acid reflux. This pain can extend from the throat to the mid-chest.  Heartburn is commonly treated with antacids or acid blockers. Most people believe that heartburn is due to the production of too much acid in the stomach. That is usually not the case in most instances. Too little acid is usually the culprit. During a meal, take one to two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in 4 ounces of water. This will assist your stomach in breaking down food so it doesn’t back up into your esophagus.  

Magnesium deficiency can also be a culprit. Magnesium keeps the sphincter muscle tight and able to do its job of keeping acid out of the esophagus. Magnesium deficiencies make the sphincter relaxed and not able to keep acid out. Make sure you are supplementing with a quality magnesium supplement every day.

Pain or Discomfort In The Upper GI Area (Stomach)

stomach

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes there are complaints of pain behind the ribs, on the right side of the ribs or in the upper middle area right below the chest.  If the pain is right after something is eaten, suspect possible beginnings of an ulcer or gastritis. Mending the stomach by bolstering the mucous lining of the tissues is important. Try a mucilaginous product that can support the thin mucous lining of the stomach such as Metagenics Ulcinex for a month. See your doctor if symptoms don’t improve.

If the pain starts twenty minutes after you eat or so, suspect gas. Gas can be due to low stomach acid so try sipping one to two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with four ounces of water with your meal to see if it helps. It may also be due to SIBO or bacterial overgrowth in the stomach. Try probiotics to heal the stomach and check with your doctor to determine if you have SIBO.

If you notice the pain appears with a fatty meal, suspect possible gallbladder issues. If the pain is acute, seek medical attention quickly.

Pain or Discomfort in the mid stomach range

Abdomen-periumbilical_region

This means pain anywhere on the belly button or within a span of up to two inches around the belly button. Pain in this area is where the small intestines are and the upper part of the large intestine.

This pain can be due to gas becoming trapped in the intestines due to poor eating hygiene from gulping a meal too fast.  Try peppermint capsules for gas and bloating issues.

When mid stomach pain is accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting think a possible stomach bug or food poisoning. Instead of reaching for the Immodium or Pepto Bismol, try a more natural remedy such as Dr. Schulze Formula #2.

Food intolerances and sensitivities can also be the culprit for mid stomach range pain.  You can test for food sensitivities. Some of the most common sensitivities are to gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and eggs. You can even try your own elimination diet for a couple of weeks to see if those foods are your problem.

Constipation can be the source of this kind of pain too. One of the lesser-known sources of constipation is magnesium deficiency. Try adding magnesium to clear up the problem.

Bowel obstruction is a more serious and less common issue of mid stomach pain and needs to be seen by a doctor to rule that out.

Pain In The Lower Region Of The Gastrointestinal Tract (Below Belly Button)

lower abdominal pain

Lower abdominal pain is quite common. Women have a propensity for this kind of stomach pain due to the uterus, ovaries, and tubes in the region.

Women may have a urinary tract infection that can give pain in the area. Treat urinary tract infections naturally with D-mannose. Other female issues can include fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and menstrual pain.

Pain that originates on the lower right side and radiates to the back may be appendicitis and should be treated immediately in a hospital.

For men, the prostate and testicles are in that region so lower abdominal pain can stem from issues with those organs and should be checked by a doctor to rule out.

Crohns and IBD are serious inflammatory abdominal diseases that are accompanied by bloody diarrhea and constant pain. These conditions need to be ruled out by a doctor.

IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a catch-all diagnosis of non-inflammatory stomach issues like diarrhea, constipation, bloating and gas. There are natural remedies to try for IBS such as supplementing with enzymes or probiotics and with peppermint capsules.  Eating differently during the holiday season can bring on IBS symptoms.  Making sure you stick to a normal eating pattern for most of the November and December months is critical to avoid IBS.  

Other possible causes of lower abdominal pain can due to:

 

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Gastroenteritis (Food poisoning)
  • Hernia
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
  • Kidney stone
  • Miscarriage
  • Diabetic Keto Acidosis
  • Testicular torsion
  • Prostatitis in men
  • Celiac disease
  • Eosinophilic colitis
  • Anxiety
  • Retention of urine in the bladder
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Food Allergy
  • Bowel cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Diverticulitis

In conclusion, the reasons for stomach pain can be many.  During the holiday season, we may disregard stomach pain as being eating irregularly and too much.  Stomach pain can originate in the upper, mid and lower regions of the stomach and can be as simple as eating hygiene issues like eating food too quickly and not chewing properly to serious stomach issues. Knowing the source of the pain can help you determine what the problem might be. If the pain is accompanied by fever and vomiting, calling your doctor or a trip to the emergency room is in order. Otherwise, there are simple remedies that you can implement to help you get relief fast.

12 Comments Add yours
  1. As a college student returning home over the holidays, I eat a lot. When my Dad brings out the turkey, I chow down, but sometimes I eat a bit much and have minor pains. Everything you recommended was excellent to alleviate those stresses.

    I have a question about the mucilaginous though. Are there any side effects I should be aware of? It sounds like a wonderful option, but I just would like to know more. Thank you in advance and I hope you have great day.

    1. Hi Alex, So glad that you are aware of your eating habits, but understandable around the holidays! Mucilaginous herbs are substances that soothe and protect mucous membranes. Being our digestive tract is ONE cell thick and surrounded by a mucous protective layer, you can imagine how critical it is to make sure our mucous lining in the gut is protected. They are very safe for you to take, no adverse effects are reported on substances like slippery elm or aloe…

  2. This is great information and very helpful to prepare for holiday feasting. I occasionally have a few of these symptoms and appreciate the natural remedies you suggested. I have used Bragg’s Apple Cider vinegar for some time, but did not know about magnesium. I will certainly check that out too.
    Thank you for your timely and informative article.
    Sherry

  3. Hi Linda! It’s crazy to think that emergency visits spike that much during the holidays. It makes sense though – especially with those that have underlying heart problems or situations where their GI symptoms may be mistaken for something else. Just another reason to be mindful of what (and how much) we consume 🙂

    1. Yes Sarah, too often people dismiss real issues mistaking them for GI distress. Eating mindfully and chewing thoroughly can alleviate many of the issues surrounding GI problems during the holidays.

  4. Hi Linda,
    Good article for this time of year! I wasn’t aware of the possible effects of Magnesium deficiency – heartburn, acid reflux and constipation. Sometimes I get bad acid reflux and it can be painful. I will keep in mind to eat foods that contain more Magnesium.

  5. what a fascinating article, that increase in the amount of people using the emergency services is crazy I would never have thought about it. It is amazing here in Ireland people are already stocking up for the Christmas dinner with carts over flowing with sweets and meats you would swear there is a famine coming. The shops are open the next day !
    Hopefully your article gets shared more before the holidays so that the burden on the health care system may be alleviated.

    1. It sounds like in Ireland you enjoy your holiday meal! Yes, that all sounds delicious but it is very important to keep in mind the havoc that can be wreaked on the digestive system. Be prepared by eating mindfully, chewing thoroughly and taking 15 minutes between each course to give your body a chance to communicate to you that it’s full so you don’t overeat.

  6. Good information to have. It’s always hard to behave around the holidays with all the yummy food and booze. It’s good to know the difference between stuffing yourself full and something more serious.

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