Abdominal cramps represent a pain that can occur in the region between the chest and the groin. If frequent, they can last for a long time and are associated with fever. In other cases they are a symptom of less severe disorders, like accumulation of gases in the digestive tract.

What kind of diseases can be associated with abdominal cramps?

The following diseases may be associated with abdominal cramps:

  • Food allergy
  • Abdominal angina
  • Appendicitis
  • Botulism
  • Colon cancer
  • Celiac disease
  • Colitis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Endometriosis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Food intolerance
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Peritonitis
  • Intestinal polyps
  • Salmonella
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

Remember that, this is not an exhaustive list and it is highly recommended to consult your doctor, in case of symptom’s persistence.

What is the therapy for abdominal cramps?

If the abdominal cramps occur after a meal and are located in the upper part of the abdomen, it may be helpful to take antacids and avoid: high-fat foods, fried foods, tomato products, caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks. 

However, if the pain is associated with nausea or vomiting, the patient should avoid solid foods for a few hours and drink in small sips. The patient should reintroduce nourishments starting with foods such as boiled rice and crackers. Also dairy products should be avoided.
In general, the patient should drink a lot of fluids, increase the frequency of the meals by decreasing the amount and limit the consumption of foods and drinks that promote the production of gas. Additionally they should follow a balanced diet that is high in fiber and have regular physical activities.

When is most likely to contact your doctor in case of abdominal cramps?

It is good to consult your doctor if:

  • The abdominal cramps persist for more than a week
  • The pain does not diminish within 24-48 hours
  • The worsens or is associated with nausea or vomiting
  • The cramps are associated with burning during urination, fever, diarrhea for more than five days, loss of appetite, prolonged vaginal bleeding, unexplained weight loss, swelling that lasts for more than two days

It is advisable to turn to the ER in cases of:

  • Cancer treatment
  • Problems with the intestines, especially if there is vomiting at the same time
  • Pain in the chest, neck or shoulders
  • Sudden and sharp abdominal pain 
  • Concentrated pain between the shoulder blades, being associated with nausea
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Sensitive stomach to touch or a tense and hard stomach
  • Abdominal trauma
  • Pregnancy