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5 Causes Of An Upset Stomach

By Expert HERWriter
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Irritable Bowel Syndrome related image Photo: Getty Images

Stomach pain can mean different things to different people. Sometimes it’s a sharp feeling, others times it's dull and aching. Perhaps you get gas and bloating associated with it or loose stools. Whatever the case, consider these possibilities if your stomach starts to hurt.

1. Food related
Are your pains caused by foods you ate and are allergic or intolerant to, or could they be from food poisoning? Consider getting food allergy or food intolerance testing done to see if you are having issues. The foods that cause the most problems are gluten/wheat, dairy, peanuts, egg, soy, tree nuts, shellfish, and fish.

Celiac disease caused by an allergy to gluten/wheat is on the rise and worth testing. Food poisoning, while awful, is usually short-lived.

2. Gastrointestinal related
More serious GI conditions such as diverticulitis, gall stones, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease can cause a lot of pain, diarrhea, and possibly bleeding. More common conditions include heartburn or irritable bowel syndrome.

3. Hormonally related
Many women experience digestive changes around their menstrual cycle. Some experience diarrhea or looser stools those few days leading up to their cycle while others have constipation. This is normal during the hormone shift.

4. Lifestyle related
Stressed out? Lots of coffee or soda? Working late? Too much alcohol? Not enough sleep? All of these things can upset your normal digestive tract.

5. Travel related
Many people experience constipation, diarrhea or bloating while travelling as they are out of their normal element and not eating their typical foods. Be aware of "critters" that can be picked up while travelling such as amoebas, worms, and giardia.

A temporary upset stomach is one thing but if it is happening more often than not and you can’t associate it with any particular reason, please make an appointment with your health care provider.


1. A Review of Food Allergy and Nutritional Considerations in the Food-allergic Adult. Web. October 20, 2011.

2. Abdominal Pain. WebMD. Web. October 20, 2011.

Reviewed October 20, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I have Ibs and nothing in the article is true,maybe for some people, if you haven't experience these illness. you really don't know the causes.

March 23, 2015 - 4:02am

I like the one on travel!! So true, people go on vacation and forget saftey first. Always pack some extra medicine for your tummy. You never really know, what is your food especially if you do not prepare it yourself.

November 21, 2011 - 11:14am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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