Stress or anxiety can cause cramps in the esophagus

Causes of Abdominal Pain

Pain is an important warning sign, it signals that something is wrong in the body. Abdominal pain is a relatively unspecific symptom that can hide a multitude of complaints, functional disorders and diseases (e.g. infections, inflammations, ulcers) of organs.

Upper abdominal pain can be a sign of various disorders and diseases:

  • Nutritional errors, e.g. B. a large meal
  • Disease of the abdominal organs
  • mental stress ("stress")
  • Appendicitis
  • Heart and lung diseases that spread to the abdomen

Here you will find a tabular summary of upper abdominal pain and its causes.

Pain im entire abdomen perceived indicate a bowel disease or peritonitis. Mostly serious illnesses are involved (summary table).

Is the pain on the Lower abdomen, i.e. the area below the belly button, there are mostly diseases of the colon, appendix, urinary tract or, in women, the genital organs (summary in table).

Abdominal pain and other complaints often occur in connection with the consumption of certain foods. The causes for this are acid-related stomach problems, food allergies, food intolerances or functional (psychosomatic) complaints without reference to certain organs.

Page summary:

  • Acid-related stomach problems
  • Food intolerance
  • Milk sugar intolerance (lactose intolerance)
  • Fructose intolerance (fructose intolerance)
  • Chronic abdominal pain

Acid-related stomach problems

In the case of acid-related stomach problems, meals or certain luxury foods stimulate the stomach's acid production. The stomach acid can flow back into the esophagus and heartburn trigger. This irritates the mucous membrane of the esophagus and can become inflamed (esophagitis or inflammation of the esophagus). Reflux disease). The gastric mucosa can also be damaged by excess stomach acid. Around every 10th person in the western industrialized countries suffers from reflux disease.

Heartburn develops

  • when the sphincter in the lower part of the esophagus does not close properly. The cause for this is either a general weakening of the sphincter or a diaphragmatic hernia. As a result of the diaphragmatic hernia, the stomach is partially displaced into the chest, which changes the pressure on the sphincter muscle.
  • by taking certain medications, e.g. rheumatism and painkillers, heart medication, medication for osteoporosis.
  • through the influence of certain ways of life. If you are overweight, part of the stomach's contents are pushed into the esophagus. Smoking affects the sphincter muscle. Stress and anger increase the production of acid in the stomach or slow down the emptying of the stomach.
  • through certain foods. Fat, alcohol, chocolate and caffeine stimulate the production of stomach acid or reduce the tension of the sphincter. Large meals increase the pressure and thereby promote reflux. In contrast, carbohydrates have no effect on the sphincter, and protein-rich foods even increase the tension of the sphincter.

Food intolerance

In contrast to food allergies, the immune system is not involved in food intolerance. Rather, the cause of the symptoms that occur after eating is a congenital or acquired deficiency in enzymes (e.g. lactose intolerance, inherited fructose intolerance) or a transport defect (intestinal fructose intolerance). As a result, the carbohydrates lactose or fructose reach the large intestine, where they are converted by the bacteria of the intestinal flora. The resulting breakdown products are responsible for the symptoms such as abdominal pain or diarrhea.

Milk sugar intolerance (lactose intolerance)

In the case of lactose intolerance, the enzyme is missing Lactase in the mucous membrane of the small intestine or is produced in too small quantities. Therefore the milk sugar (lactose) contained in milk or dairy products cannot be broken down and absorbed through the intestinal mucosa. The lactose then reaches the large intestine, where it is fermented by intestinal bacteria. This creates gases that can lead to flatulence and abdominal pain.

Lactase deficiency is usually congenital. It is particularly common among people of Asian origin, because they often do not have a lactase gene. The lactose intolerance usually only occurs in adulthood. Lactase deficiency can also be present in chronic or acute gastrointestinal diseases if the irritated or inflamed intestinal mucosa no longer produces sufficient quantities of the enzyme.

Fructose intolerance (fructose intolerance)

The fructose intolerance comes in 2 forms:

  • Intestinal fructose intolerance (fructose malabsorption)
  • Inherited fructose intolerance

The Fructose malabsorption occurs in around 30% of adults. The cause is probably a disruption of the fructose transport in the small intestine. As a result, the fructose is absorbed from the intestine more slowly than normal and larger amounts enter the colon. There it is broken down by bacteria.

The rarer one inherited fructose intolerance usually occurs in infancy and is an inherited enzyme deficiency. A breakdown product of fructose accumulates in the liver, kidneys and intestines and is toxic. It also hinders the breakdown of glucose and thus causes hypoglycaemia.

Chronic abdominal pain

Abdominal pain that occurs to varying degrees over a period of more than 3 months and cannot be localized is referred to as chronic recurrent abdominal pain. They can also be caused by functional disorders without organic origin, such as irritable stomach or irritable bowel syndrome, be evoked. In such cases, they often occur together with psychosocial stress, such as "stress" at work, family, university or school. The stress presumably disrupts the complex interplay between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system (CNS).