Stomach Aches in Adults

Parent Q&A

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  • I need a recommendation of a specialist in dealing with stomach issues and I need someone who has really been able to make a difference with more than just suggesting elimination diets. My 13 year old daughter and I have had stomach issues for awhile now. I've had them for a few years and she for the past eight months or so. Basically the symptoms can either be stomach cramps, diarrhea, constipation, or a combo. We both have tried extensive elimination diets of eliminating gluten, dairy, sugar, white flour / white rice / white pasta, alcohol (for me), meat, and various combinations of all of these. The other thing we've tried on advice from our pediatrician is ant-acids, but nothing brings our stomachs back on track for very long or even at all. I honestly just thought my issues had to do with aging, but now that she is going through it I am concerned much more. I'd appreciate someone who has proven to help without prescribing more elimination diet advice.

    Hello friend. I'm sure you already know this, but GI issues are frequently due to stress and anxiety... our daughter's therapist, who was AWESOME, described this as "emotions coming out in your body," and made the analogy of getting butterflies before giving a presentation (= anxiety coming out as stomach pain). I know from experience that no parent wants to feel like someone is suggesting emotional issues - but perhaps it's worth going for CBT and maybe even biofeedback, just to learn techniques for coping with pain? Both CBT and biofeedback have been fundamental in our family for targeting health issues, and I have no idea where we'd be without them. You can try our therapist if you want, she's in Berkeley (Rachel Zoffness PhD, - she sees teens and also does parent work. I hope this is helpful. Best wishes, PT

    I had the same problem, for over a year I had the same miserable stomach problems that you mention. After a really bad day, I thought I had an ulcer, I went to the doctor seeking testing and advice. She told me to try cutting out caffeine and ibuprofen (and alcohol too, but I didn't drink to begin with). Well that did the trick within a week! After a couple weeks of elimination of caffeine and ibuprofen, I was able to add back in one cup of caffeinated coffee per day, but I still rarely take ibuprofen for pain and take tylenol sparingly instead. My daughter's stomach problems are mainly PMS related, and she has found eating an orange every day helps with that. Good Luck.

    I suggest consulting with your family doctor and getting a referral to an experienced dietician. (There are illnesses that are the cause of stomach issues like a parasite, giardia etc., and some lab work may be warranted). You may want to keep a food diary to try to identify potential triggers. For me, relief has come with zero caffeine!, zero coffee (including decaf), (zero caffeinated tea), zero liquid milk, no yogurt, no ice cream! :(, no ricotta, no undercooked eggplant, no raw fish,  and avoiding almost all processed foods.  A short course of probiotics (like 2 or 3 days!) may be helpful, but for me they caused short terms issues, which resolved when I stopped taking them.  Very basic non-irritating foods include white rice and boiled potatoes. Green apples have a lot of pectin and help keep things together (bannanas too!).  Avoiding candy and chocolate can help. Avoiding lots of fats and grease is good. Home cooking is best!  P.S. I would avoid raw milk cheeses due to prevalence of listeria. Be aware that a huge percentage of lunch meats are contaminated with listeria.

    I started having stress related stomach issues 10 years ago. I consulted Michael Silpa in Berkeley. He is great--very non-judgmental and professional. After reviewing early childood on up he diagnosed IBS and said that I had been born with it. My son also has it.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Family getting stomach aches when I cook healthy

June 2014

Help! Often, when I cook what I think is a healthy and delicious meal, adding flax seed, using whole grains, serving vegetables, someone in the family comes down with a stomach ache. They seem to do better on white bread. Until they get a stomach ache from being constipated. I'm discouraged. I can't win either way. By the way, they are all a bit plump & should lose some weight. I've been a super healthy eater for years and my stomach is not getting upset. My body likes the whole grains. Could I get some advise? wannabe chef

Sounds like IBS to me. You can still cook healthy but there are techniques for cooking and eating that really help. I found this website to be great: Basically, you need to start meals with some form of soluble fiber before eating hard to digest foods. It's pretty counterintuitive but it worked well for me. Check it out

Hi there, your family is not used to digesting the whole grains or eating raw vegetables. Actually raw foods are difficult for the body to digest for a lot of people.I would suggest adding GOOD probiotics as well as fermented foods. Start with smaller quantities of healthier food at first or cook them differently. For example, it is easier for the body to digest cruciferous vegetables like cauliflowers when they are roasted in the oven. BL

Grains may be the culprit in the stomach aches as well as plumpness. Dairy also may be a player. You didn't say if YOU get stomach aches, you just said someone in your family. Grains can be inflammatory to the gut (as well as the gluten in the white bread). They feed grain to factory farmed cows and pigs to fatten them up!! Why would that not do the same to us? You might try a healthy anti-inflammatory diet for you and your family and see if it makes a difference in weight and tummys. I'm willing to bet it will. I'd be happy to share my experience with change of diet and better health. Feel free to contact me. June K

I have been using more whole grains and found there are a few that cause gas pains. I have to personally avoid lentils and barley though the rest of the family seems fine. Aduki/adzuki beans are yummy and the kindest of all beans to my digestive system. Perhaps the tummy troubles are due to gas? Anon

Having a lot of fiber in your diet can give you gas. But dont get discouraged from eating healthy, wholesome meals! I think that everyone has a certain conception of ''healthy'' and it sounds like you focus a lot on fiber. I also think its critical to being healthy and my body is used to it. Yet, if your family is not used to eating high-fiber food, then it can easily give them a stomach ache. Fiber is generally hard to digest, so I like to incorporate a lot of veggies into soups and stews. Longer cooking times can make it easier to digest. Also, I think that if adding a whole bunch of extra fiber for health's sake, then don't add it! If you eat mostly veggies, you probably dont need to add flax seed to stuff. Also, if you cook beans, try soaking them for 24 hrs before cooking and throwing away cooking liquid. If you use canned beans, make sure to toss liquid and rinse them before eating. Sasha

Any big dietary change is likely to have repercussions. Maybe go a little more gradually. Add one more vege per week. Add whole grain bread (wheat berry, not roman meal) for half the bread used one week, gradually increase. Maybe add the flax seeds later. Switching back and forth is bound to be hard on everyone's system, but no reason to stop trying. I'd suggest just slowing the process down a bit. You know what foods offer better nutrition for your family, so introduce them slowly, and their systems will get used to it. Good for you for doing this!

I missed your original post... but from the title and your responses, here are some thoughts. There are many definitions of what ''cooking healthy'' is. What works for one person, doesn't necessarily work for the other. For my family, I used to think that lowfat, lots of whole grains, vegetarian/vegan cooking was healthy. I thought that was the ideal. Then I had children with allergies. I became a total food nerd and read, read, read.

Now, I think lowfat/whole grains/vegetarian/vegan is NOT healthy and that it totally depletes your body, makes you overweight, is very hard on the body, and causes things like diabetes, etc. Lots of foods geared to that kind of diet are filled with corn derivatives, soy derivatives, weird food additives that are not food, preservatives, highly processed and rancid (ie carcinogenic) GMO polyunsaturated oils (canola, safflower, etc), synthetic vitamins, etc. No, organic gluten free whole grain cereal is not healthy for you. It might be the case that you don't do well on that kind of diet. I don't. My husband doesn't.

We learned about ''Real Food'' and the Weston Price Foundation (just google them).. and it makes total sense to me. Maybe to you too? All I'm saying is that if you are getting stomache woes bc of what you are calling ''healthy cooking'', maybe you need to read a little bit more, re-evaluate what you think is ''healthy food'', and pay close attention to your gut. Go visit 3 Stone Hearth in Berkeley. ??? Anon

Husband's stomachache and bloating after he eats

June 2009

My husband has been dealing with stomach bloating every time he eats anything. He has taken prilosec, have been told to lose weight, excersise and it was due to stress or depression. He has tried many of these avenues but to no avail. When he does not eat it tends to go down but then when he finally eats it goes right back to feeling painful and hurting. It is primarily on his right side under his rib cage. Anyone have an idea about what could be going on and any suggestions would be helpful. M. Have you asked the doctor for a GI referral, to rule out gall bladder issues? Good luck. anon

I had real bad stomach issues 8 years ago and lived with them for a year. During this time, my Doctor just kept telling me to giveup dairy, give up wheat, wait it out, etc. At the end of a year, I was doing OK, but decided there was still something amiss. I had to be real persistent with the Dr. to get an abdominal ultrasound - which led to a diagnosis you dont want to hear about. But, in the end, after much personal advocacy on my part, things got straightened out. So, make sure you get excellent (not just good) medical attention. If they dont give you the time and service you need, keep at it. Hopefully what you have is mundane and can be dealt with easily - but it may take a lot of work on your part to get the proper diagnosis and treatment. Anon

I have a few ideas: -Has your husband had his gallbladder function checked? A friend of mine suffered for 3 years before they finally checked out her gallbladder (very similar symptoms), and when she had it out, she felt as if she'd been given her life back. -He may also have a sluggish stomach which can lead to 'dumping' of the stomach contents into the small intestine without proper digestion. -Lastly, I recently figured out that I am allergic to Barley and that many of the gastric symptoms I had (i.e. bloating, belching, IBS type symptoms, and weight gain) were relieved when I eliminated it from my diet. Clearly, barley isn't necessarily the culprit in all cases, but because it is in so many things (bread, malt, maltodextrin etc), I was getting a constant stream of it. So there may be something in his diet that he is sensitive to that is causing his symptoms. -Has he been to a gastrointerologist? Sarah

Diegstive issues? Enzymes and stomach acid are needed to digest food. As we get older we prodcue less of these on our own. Get a high quality product such as ''Quantum Digest'' and ''HCL'' from the company Premier Research Labs. You need to order these online, they are not available in regular stores, but they are affordable. I had digestive issues and only needed one capsule each for lunch and dinner and was instantly freed of symptoms from the first meal on. After 3-4 weeks I didn't need the supplements anymore. Anonymous

I would suggest that your husband see a nutritionist since everyone is different. But, from your description and my own personal experience with similar symptoms, here are a few suggestions. Even though people take antacids because they have heartburn and think they have excess acid, often times the opposite is true: too little digestive acids/enzymes. Your husband might try getting a full-complex digestive enzyme capsule or chewable from the healthfood store. Sometimes bloating can come simply from undigested food. The other thing that can help this kind of bloating/indigestion is taking probiotic supplements - again at the health food store, they will be in a refridgerated section - there are several to choose from, I like Jarro-Dophilus - one or two with every meal. Also, eating foods high in fiber and unprocessed, such as gently steamed vegetables, fruits, whole grains, can help ease an overloaded gut. For myself, I did all of this as well as follow the Candida Diet (basically gluten/sugar free you can find it online or books) for 3 months and completely healed my suffering digestive system. Hope some of this helps. moondeva

Have your husband tested for Gluten allergy and/or Celiac Disease as soon as possible. Sounds very much like my former symptoms. Or if you don't have insurance, try having him eat rice, corn. No wheat, oats, rye or barley. Soy sauce has wheat in it too, If he feels better, that might be the problem, but once he stops eating it, he can't be tested for it. So don't stop until he's tested. There are more and more folks getting diagnosed with this and its getting more and more easy to find products one can eat.  Good luck! aluckymom

Your husband should be checked for liver problems, as the liver and gallbladder lie under the right rib cage. This should include lab work for liver inflammation, as well as an ultrasound for gallstones. Gallbladder disease is fairly common. Hope this helps

Have the doctors checked his gallbladder? I had those same symptoms for about 3 years before I had a gallbladder attack. And certain foods were huge culprits - anything made with wheat, dairy or eggs. After a month of not eating any of those things, I was able to resume eating wheat and dairy, and I can eat small servings of things made with eggs, but I can't eat a whole egg any longer unless I want to be bloated and miserable for a day or two afterwards. no more bloated belly for me

Abdominal discomfort after eating

Nov 2006

I’m not looking for an online diagnosis, of course, but I wonder if anyone else out there has suffered from these symptoms. I am 55, a female, and 7 years past menopause. Since late last year, I’ve had off-and-on abdominal discomfort after eating, at first intestinal twinges, and now just stomach cramps. It isn’t painful, but it’s noticeable. I THINK it comes and goes with the amount of stress in my life, but am not sure. (Yeah, I know; I'll try keeping a diary of the symptoms.) I had a colonoscopy and an endoscopy earlier this year, which found no trace of cancer or ulcers. My primary doctor probed at me during my last physical, but didn't find anything strange.

I did experiment with diet, in a kind of random way, and am now seriously planning to do an elimination diet, and see whether I might have an intolerance to dairy, wheat, whatever.

I’m on the slender side, have only gained about 5 pounds in the last several years, and my bowel movements haven’t changed (one possible symptom of irritable bowel syndrome), but I wake frequently in the middle of the night (admittedly, not uncommon around and after menopause), and this makes me tired. I’ve also had a very stressful year: conflicts with my bipolar boss, looking after an aging and fragile parent, a sense of being overwhelmed with responsibilities, etc. I tend to be a worrier and find it hard to relax. I eat well, take vitamins and minerals, and get a fair amount of exercise.

Sound familiar? Any recommendations for an East Bay specialist who accepts HealthNet/Hill Physicians insurance? The chap who did my procedures was efficient, but didn’t seem like much of a diagnostician Anonymous

Don't know if it will work for you, but I had stomach issues for years -- Prilosec OTC changed my life. A pill every morning, and it solved so many of my problems. kevin

This is a probably a long shot, but I'll mention it in case it helps you as it did me. About ten years ago I started suffering from frequent stomach aches. Some days I had them, some days I didn't, and I couldn't discern any pattern. Well, it eventually turned out that some of my jeans, although they were not super-tight, pressed on my stomach in such a way as to cause these stomach aches. When I stopped wearing jeans, the stomach aches pretty much vanished. These days, jeans are cut lower so I can wear them again without pain. It might be worth investigating whether any of your pants are squeezing your tummy Happier tummy now

As you suspect your symptoms are most likely gastro-intestinal in origin, quite possibly from stress. should definitely be sure your doctor has ruled out ovarian cancer. It is NOT likely to be the cause of your symptoms but needs to be ruled out in a female of your age with frequent abdominal discomfort. You mentioned seeing your primary care doctor. I suggest you see a good gynecologist too, if you haven't already. Lori