How to Cure Stomach Cramps

Seven Methods:Treating Heartburn/IndigestionTreating GasTreating ConstipationTreating Menstrual CrampsTreating Stomach FluUsing Other Techniques to Relieve DiscomfortContacting Your Doctor

Stomach cramps are extremely painful, but it's possible to relieve them by treating the underlying cause, which you may even be able to do at home. Possible causes of stomach cramps can come from your digestive organs, aorta, appendix, kidneys, gallbladder, or spleen. They can also originate from an infection elsewhere in your body.[1] Cramps are commonplace for some women during their menstrual cycle, although exercises can often alleviate such pain. The strength of pain does not always necessarily indicate seriousness: very painful cramps can be caused by gas passing through your digestive system harmlessly, whereas life-threatening conditions such as colon cancer and early appendicitis can produce mild or even no pain.[2]

Method 1
Treating Heartburn/Indigestion

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    Look for signs of heartburn and/or indigestion. Although heartburn and indigestion are different, indigestion can lead to heartburn. Indigestion, or dyspepsia, is mild discomfort in the upper part of your abdomen that is usually accompanied by a feeling of fullness.[3] Heartburn, on the other hand, is a painful, burning feeling just below or behind the breastbone.[4] This is caused by a “reflux” of stomach acid and food into the esophagus (the muscular tube that leads to your stomach).
    • Additional signs that you have heartburn or indigestion include fullness and discomfort after eating and/or a burning sensation below the breastbone generally after eating.
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    Make lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes can help prevent and resolve heartburn and indigestion. Some lifestyle changes that you can make include:[5][6]
    • Decreasing your alcohol and caffeine intake
    • Eating less spicy, fatty, or greasy foods
    • Eating small, frequent meals instead of large meals
    • Eating slower and not eating right before bedtime
    • Raising the head of your bed if you experience heartburn during the night
    • Reducing your stress level
    • Regular exercise
    • Smoking cessation
    • Losing some weight if you are overweight
    • Avoiding aspirin or NSAIDs. If you must take them, take them with food.
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    Take antacids. Over-the-counter antacids or acid blockers can help relieve heartburn and indigestion. Many different forms are available on the market, and they include:[7][8]
    • Antacids, such as TUMS, are good for short-term relief. These neutralize the acid in your stomach.
    • H2 blockers, such as Zantac or Pepcid, block the production of stomach acid and last a few hours.
    • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), including Prilosec and Omeprazole, also block production of stomach acid and help relieve the symptoms of and prevent frequent heartburn. PPIs are used long term.
    • Some of these antacids can have side effects such as constipation or diarrhea. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor to choose the best one for you.
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    Try herbal/natural remedies. If you prefer herbal remedies, alternative medication may help relieve heartburn or indigestion. Some herbal remedies include:
    • Chamomile: There is some evidence that shows chamomile in combination with other herbs may be good for an upset stomach.[9] Do not use chamomile if you take anticoagulants, as it interferes with these medications.
    • Peppermint Oil: Enteric coated peppermint oil capsules can be used for irritable bowel syndrome. There are some studies that peppermint oil with caraway oil can also help with indigestion.[10]
    • Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL): Licorice root, in preliminary studies, has been shown to help with digestion and heartburn. It can, however, cause an increase in blood pressure.[11]

Method 2
Treating Gas

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    Identify if you have gas. Often, gas can cause stomach pain and a bloated feeling. Signs that you are experiencing gas include frequent belching or burping and flatulence. Gas can also cause abdominal cramps, as well as a tightness or knotted feeling in your abdomen.[12]
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    Make lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes can help resolve and prevent and gas. Some lifestyle changes that you can make include:[13][14]
    • Drinking more water and less carbonated or fizzy drinks
    • Avoiding vegetables that cause more gas, such as legumes, broccoli, and cabbage
    • Avoiding high-fat foods
    • Eating slower to avoid swallowing air
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    Look for food intolerances. Cut out certain foods to see if intolerance of those foods is the cause. For example, milk and dairy products may cause cramps and stomach pain in people who are lactose intolerant.[15]
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    Take an over-the-counter remedy. OTC products with simethicone help make it easier to belch away gas. Digestive enzymes may be useful if you are lactose intolerant. A digestive aid, such as Beano, can help digest beans and vegetables.[16]

Method 3
Treating Constipation

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    Consider if constipation is another symptom. Constipation can also cause stomach pain. Signs of constipation include having bowel movements less than three times a week, trouble passing stool, or hard and dry stool.[17]
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    Make lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes can help resolve and prevent constipation. Some lifestyle changes that you can make include:[18][19]
    • Adding more fiber to your diet. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are high in fiber.
    • Drinking a lot of water (at least 8 – 13 glasses daily)
    • Exercising regularly
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    Take an effective medication. There are many OTC laxatives and fiber supplements; however, many laxatives may have side effects. Choosing the appropriate one may help relieve constipation. It is important to note that laxatives are not for long-term use.[20]
    • Lubricants, such as mineral oil, make it easier for stool to pass.
    • Stool softeners, such as docusate, soften the stool. This is good for patients who are on medications that cause constipation.
    • Bulk-forming laxatives, including psyllium, add bulk to the stool.
    • Stimulant laxatives, such as bisacodyl, cause contraction of the muscles of the intestinal wall helping to push the stool; however, long-term use can cause damage to your intestinal wall.
    • Osmotic laxatives, like saline laxatives or polyethylene glycol, cause water to be drawn into your GI tract, making it easier for stool to pass. These may cause electrolyte imbalances.
    • Fiber supplements, like Metamucil, help absorb water and maintain regularity.
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    Try an herbal remedy. Alternative medications may help relieve constipation. Flaxseed is the most common herbal remedy. It has soluble fiber that can help with constipation.[21]

Method 4
Treating Menstrual Cramps

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    Look for a correlation between cramping and your period. Menstrual cramps in the lower abdomen are experienced by women usually just before and/or during their periods. Sometimes they can be serious and indicate endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
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    Make lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes that can help relieve menstrual cramps include exercise, stress management, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol. In addition, studies have shown that vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-1 (thiamine), vitamin B-6, and magnesium supplements may reduce menstrual cramps.[22]
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    Take a medication. Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, at regular doses starting the day before you get your period may help if your cramps are predictable. You can continue taking the medicine as directed by your doctor for two to three days or until your symptoms go away. If your cramps are severe, your doctor can also prescribe birth control, which can reduce the severity of your cramps.[23]
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    Try herbal alternatives. Some studies have found that acupuncture (inserting thin needles through your skin at strategic points) helps relieve menstrual cramps. In addition some herbs such as fennel may help with the cramps as well.[24]

Method 5
Treating Stomach Flu

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    Look for other flu-like symptoms. Gastroenteritis, or the “stomach bug,” can cause severe stomach pain. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and a fever generally accompany this.[25]
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    Stay hydrated. Dehydration is the most common issue with gastroenteritis, so drink a lot of liquids such as water and diluted sports drinks (undiluted, sports drinks contain too much sugar. Try cutting them by adding more water.). Take them in frequent sips.[26]
    • Signs of dehydration include dark urine, dizziness, muscle cramps, fatigue, and dry mouth. Get medical help if you cannot keep down liquids.[27]
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    Let your stomach settle. In addition to stomach cramps, vomiting and nausea are associated with gastroenteritis. Let your stomach settle then slowly begin to eat easy-to-digest and bland foods. Foods such crackers, toast, bananas, and rice are generally easy to digest. Avoid spicy and fatty food, dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol for a few days.[28]
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    Get plenty of rest. Getting rest is important to be able to recover quickly. Rest helps promote your immune system, which will help you reduce down time while you have symptoms.
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    Wash your hands often. If a family member or coworker has the “stomach flu” make sure to wash your hands often to prevent the spread of it.

Method 6
Using Other Techniques to Relieve Discomfort

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    Use breathing techniques. Breathing is relaxing and can divert your attention from the pain of mild cramps. You can do this while doing something else that will divert your attention, such as watching a television show.
    • Focus on your breathing. Use a fast and shallow breathing rate, following a one-two (breathe in fast, breathe out fast) rhythm.
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    Avoid certain beverages. Alcohol or any caffeinated or carbonated drink can add to abdominal pain.[29] Sip water or clear fluids.[30]
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    Try to exercise the cramps away. Take a walk around your house, or in the garden. This can be helpful when you find that sitting or lying down is uncomfortable.
    • You may find it best to avoid abdominal exercises while experiencing cramps due to the discomfort, especially because cramps may result from exercise itself if you push yourself too hard. Know your limits.
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    Try yoga. Some evidence suggests yoga may help with stomach issues such as irritable bowel syndrome.[31] If you're familiar with yoga, consider some poses that open up the abdominal region. Depending where the cramps are, consider fish pose or reclining hero. Downward facing dog can also be helpful.
    • If your cramps are muscular in nature, exercise your abdominal muscles at another time and merely stretch them in the cobra pose. Any position where you are facing up, looking forward or facing the ceiling will result in a minuscule amount of abdominal tension.
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    Use a heating pad. Place a heating pad, heated wheat bag, or hot water bottle on your stomach to give temporary relief. While some advice suggests not to apply the heating pad to your abdomen in case this brings on nausea, other advice considers this to be appropriate.[32] Decide on which approach best suits your needs through your knowledge of your own preferences and responses to the application of heat.
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    Pass gas. Allow yourself to pass gas. If you are at work or somewhere this might be embarrassing or inappropriate, just excuse yourself and go to the restroom. You do not want to allow yourself to become bloated or let the cramps become more serious and painful by holding in your gas.
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    Take a soak in a warm bath. A warm bath can also help with some cramping.[33] Don't make it too hot, just comfortable.

Method 7
Contacting Your Doctor

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    Know when to get immediate assistance. Knowing when to contact a doctor or get help is essential. Stomach pain is a symptom of many different issues and some can be serious, such as peptic ulcers, pancreatitis, appendicitis, autoimmune disease, gall bladder issues, cancer, and more. Generally for stomach pain, get help immediately if:[34]
    • You have abdominal pain that is sudden and sharp, or you have pain in your chest, neck, or shoulder
    • You’re vomiting blood or have blood in your stool
    • Your abdomen is hard and tender to touch
    • You can't move your bowels and are also vomiting
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    Determine if your heartburn/indigestion requires medical assistance. Though these conditions are typically minor and can easily be treated with over-the-counter medicines, you should see your doctor if:[35][36]
    • Your symptoms last longer than a few days or do not improve with medication
    • You lose weight you were not trying to lose
    • You have sudden or severe pain. Get immediate care if you feel a crushing or squeezing pain.
    • You have trouble swallowing
    • Your skin or eyes look pale or yellow
    • You vomit blood or have bloody, dark stool
    • Your stool looks like coffee grounds
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    Determine if your gastroenteritis requires medical assistance. The other symptoms also associated with “stomach flu” can lead to a situation where you should see a doctor. These include:[37]
    • You have been vomiting for more than two days
    • Diarrhea persists more than several days or is bloody
    • You have a persistent high fever of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher
    • You have lightheadedness, fainting, or confusion when standing
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    Avoid certain medications before seeing your doctor. If or when you do decide to see a doctor, do not take aspirin, ibuprofen, or any other anti-inflammatory medications or narcotic pain medications unless your doctor has seen you and has prescribed these. They can worsen some stomach pains.[38]
    • If you know that the source of your cramps is menstrual, however, anti-inflammatories can be taken.[39]
    • Acetaminophen is acceptable if your doctor has verified that your pain is not related to your liver.[40]


  • Do not eat spicy foods.
  • Don't take medicine unless you really have to.
  • Look into the possibility that you might be suffering from a condition or a disease that causes cramping. Some of the conditions or diseases that can cause cramping include Crohn's disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcers, diverticulitis, bowel obstruction, pancreatitis, ulcerative colitis, urinary infections, cancers, and hernias.[41] Ask for your doctor's advice and seek medical testing and treatment options if this turns out to be an issue.
  • Remain seated in an upright position and place pillows further up your back when sleeping so you are in an upright-ish position.
  • Sit up straight ( not at an angle) have a hot pack and clear hot water and keep your feet elevated.


  • Poisoning, including some animal and insect bites, can cause severe abdominal pain. If you’ve been bitten, stung, or come into contact with a poisonous chemical, then call Poison Control and follow their instructions.
  • This article offers information, but it does not offer medical advice. If you feel uncertain about identifying or treating your stomach cramps, then you should consult your doctor.

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