Non-specific stomach complaints, What are they?
Stomach complaints can be divided into three different types:
- caused by an ulcer in the stomach or duodenum
- caused by reflux of stomach acid in the esophagus
- non-specific stomach upset
In this information folder you will find information about non-specific stomach complaints.
In case of pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen, we speak of stomach complaints. We speak of non-specific stomach complaints if the symptoms do not directly indicate reflux complaints, which can be recognized in particular by heartburn or acid burping.
Symptoms stomach upset
Stomach complaints can be recognized by one or more of the following characteristics:
- feeling full or bloated
- fast saturation (quickly ‘full’)
- pain (nagging, stabbing or burning)
Sometimes stomach complaints occur with an empty stomach or in the middle of the night. In most cases, however, the symptoms start during or after eating and you notice that you are saturated more quickly.
How do stomach complaints arise?
Of most stomach complaints we do not know how they arise. Sometimes the symptoms are caused by a stomach or duodenum ulcer. If your symptoms start at night or on an empty stomach, the stomach complaints may indicate this.
More often stomach problems are caused by stomach acid that flows back from the stomach into the esophagus. In that case we speak of reflux complaints. You could think of this if your main symptoms are heartburn and / or acid burping. Stomach complaints can also occur due to the use of certain painkillers.
In most cases we do not know the origin of stomach complaints. In these cases we speak of a ‘functional disorder’ of the stomach. In some of the people with stomach complaints there is also a functional disorder of the colon: irritable bowel syndrome. The symptoms that accompany this sometimes resemble stomach complaints.
Is it serious and what can you expect?
Although the symptoms sometimes cause a lot of nuisance, non-specific stomach complaints hardly ever cause permanent damage to health. Almost all people who consult the doctor with an upset stomach will no longer suffer from time. The reason for this is that stomach complaints usually resolve on their own. However, stomach complaints may return. In the rare cases that the symptoms are caused by a stomach or duodenum ulcer, there is a small risk of complications.
When to the doctor?
In the following cases, doctordokter.nl advises you to consult with your general practice.
1. If your symptoms are accompanied by: – unintended weight loss – the feeling that food is stuck in the esophagus – regular vomiting
2. If the symptoms persist or recur
3. If you have previously had a stomach or duodenum ulcer, it may be that this has not been cured sufficiently; possibly there is now a permanent cure available for you.
We have known for a number of years that stomach ulcers arise when there is a bacterium in the stomach: the Helicobacter pylori. By eradicating this bacterium with a combined cure, the chance of the ulcer returning is practically excluded. An exception to this rule is the development of stomach ulcers by painkillers
What can you do about it yourself?
A healthy lifestyle can help you get rid of your stomach complaints (see chapter: influence of lifestyle on stomach complaints). Smoking can, for example, provoke stomach complaints.
Tensions can also play a role in upset stomach. It is wise to use regular meals and to avoid the use of foods that fall badly (for example, a lot of fat or strong herbs), at least temporarily.
It is advisable to use coffee, carbonated drinks and alcohol moderately. Moreover, it is better not to take painkillers that the package leaflet states that they can cause stomach upset.
General advice and precautions
Stomach complaints are generally harmless and temporary. So you do not have to worry immediately if you suffer from your stomach. If you have a lot of nuisance, feel free to try a drugstore remedy, such as an acid binder.
Do you also take a good look at the situation you are in: are you literally having problems with your stomach? Can you adapt something to your lifestyle so that your entrails suffer less? You can think of your smoking behavior, use of alcohol, coffee, carbonated drinks and painkillers.
Regular exercise, regular meals and adequate relaxation also have a positive influence on stomach complaints (see chapter: lifestyle influence on stomach complaints).
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