Stomach ache is experienced by all at some point in their life. It can be felt as a cramping sensation leaving a person all curled up or can be dull and intermittent, that comes and goes. It can occur at any time, but sometimes it occurs in the morning which can be due to an underlying condition, the last day’s meal, or because of the preparation of the intestine for the bowel movement. Getting a stomach ache off and on, is not to worry about. But, if it occurs frequently or is severe, ignoring it would not be a correct decision. The most common causes of morning stomach aches are as follows:
Causes of Morning Stomach Ache
A person having less than 3 bowel movements in a week is said to be constipated.(1) Irregularity in bowel activity can lead to the trapping of gas in the intestinal tract that causes severe cramping in the lower abdomen early in the morning or any other time of the day.
Constipation is due to a low fiber diet and sedentary lifestyle. Stool softeners, increasing physical activity, and eating more fruits and vegetables can be helpful in improving the symptoms.
A doctor should be consulted if constipation lasts for more than 2 weeks.
Ulcers are sores that develop in the stomach lining. It may lead to dull and burning pain in the middle of the stomach i.e. between the chest and the belly button. It causes stomach aches in the morning as during that time stomach is empty.
The symptoms of stomach ulcers can be relieved by over-the-counter prescriptions and antacids. If the symptoms worsen or persist, a doctor should be consulted.
An ulcer can also lead to a hole in the abdominal wall, which calls for emergency consultation and treatment.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease is a condition that affects a female’s ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, and cervix. It is the most common condition in females aged 15-24 years.(2)
The common symptoms of this condition include fever, uterine discharge, and painful intercourse along with pain in the abdomen. This condition can complicate if not treated properly.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition affecting the large intestine and affects mostly the lower right or lower left side of the stomach. Other symptoms that a person with irritable bowel syndrome experience include:
There are certain foods and emotional reactions that may trigger the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Avoiding such foods and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be helpful in managing the symptoms.
Food allergies can lead to pain in the stomach. It is known to affect 4-6% of children and 6% of adults.(3) Common food allergens are dairy, shellfish, wheat, gluten, and nuts.
Those with food allergies can experience stomach cramps, wheezing, hives, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and swelling of the tongue.
Stomach pain caused by food allergies can be very painful and worse in the morning especially if the triggering food is consumed the previous night.
Indigestion causes upper abdominal pain, tenderness, and bloating and can also lead to acid reflux.
Its symptoms occur after eating. It is a common cause of morning stomach aches accompanied by nausea and vomiting. It is important to see a doctor if the symptoms continue for long as they can cause dehydration.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that is known to affect the small intestine. It is triggered by foods containing gluten and may lead to morning stomach ache along with diarrhea, bloating, anemia and gas. It can be dangerous as the allergic reaction may lead to anaphylactic shock, a medical emergency.
The symptoms can be relieved by avoiding the foods that trigger the condition. Antihistamines can also help in relieving the symptoms of food allergy.
It is really important to see a doctor if hives, itching, and wheezing develop after consuming something, to confirm or rule out food allergy.
Having stomach pain at any time of the day is very upsetting and waking from it can be even worse. If it has been for a long and even after trying different interventions, it has not improved, consulting a doctor and getting treated for the condition is very important.