The reasons behind sudden stomach pain at night are as wide as the color spectrum. They can range from seemingly normal everyday issues like gas, constipation, and bloating, to more serious concerns like kidney stones, a hiatal hernia (passing of a stomach portion into the chest cavity), or stomach ulcers. For an accurate diagnosis, visit a gastroenterologist.
In most cases, however, these nightly pains can be easily resolved. Here’s how you can prevent that pesky stomach pain from ruining your sleep:
1-Be Food Smart:
Make sure to include multiple healthy food groups in each meal, and incorporate more fiber-rich foods like bananas, oranges, berries, legumes, leafy greens, and nuts, among others.
If you have problems with gas, avoid coffee, rich or fatty foods, and chocolate at night, and avoid gas-producing foods entirely. Also drink plenty of water during daytime to improve digestion and prevent kidney stones.
2-Alter Your Eating Habits:
Late-night snacking tops the list of possible causes behind nighttime abdominal pain. Since the entire body, including the digestive system, slows down during sleep, anything consumed at least 3 hours before bed either sits undigested, or is only partially digested.
This results in constipation, gas, diarrhea, or bloating, all of which cause stomach pain. Moreover, avoiding overeating, and break down your thrice-daily meals into 5-6 smaller meals can also improve digestive health. You can also try elevating your head with extra pillows while sleeping.
For most people with gastric pain, OTC medications are usually the first line of immediate treatment alongside lifestyle and dietary adjustments. The most commonly used medications include digestives, antacids (for pain due to acidity) and gas medications.
For more serious cases, prescription antibiotics may also be given.
4-For Mild Abdominal Pain:
In case of persistent but mild stomach pain, follow these steps:
- Avoid solid foods for the first few hours.
- Sip water or other clear fluids like sports drinks in small amounts. If you have diabetes, adjust your medications accordingly with your doctor.
- In case of vomiting, eat small amounts of mild foods like boiled rice or light crackers after waiting at least 6 hours, and avoid all dairy products until the condition resolves.
- In case of constipation, try having a bowel movement, or induce one by eating high-fiber cereal, beans, or raw fruits and vegetables.
- For heartburn or indigestion, which cause pain in the upper abdomen right after meals, try an antacid, and avoid citrus fruits, fatty, fried, and greasy foods, carbonated beverages, tomato products, and caffeine.
- For temporary but instant pain relief, place a hot water bottle or heating pad over your abdomen for half-hour intervals. Make sure to place a towel over the skin to prevent accidental burns.
5-Keep a Journal:
If the above measures, dietary changes, and OTC medication do not help, or if the pain has increased in frequency, start keeping a nighttime journal. Record your daily and nightly eating habits, daytime and nighttime symptoms, and symptoms when waking up.
Maintain the journal for 1 week-15 days, then work with your doctor to help shortlist and identify the possible cause based on the recorded patterns.
For some people, nighttime stomach pain can only be resolved with surgery. However, this is usually reserved for certain more serious conditions like endometriosis and kidney stones. Consult with your doctor on possible surgical options in such cases.
Don’t hesitate in consulting with your doctor if your nighttime stomach pain and discomfort frequently disrupts your sleep schedule, or extends into daytime.
You can also book an appointment with a top Gastroenterologist in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your gastric concerns.