Once you’ve suffered from stomach cramps once, you never forget the sensation. It can feel as though your insides are twisting around on themselves. For others, it feels like being stabbed. Either way, it leaves you curled up in agony. Sometimes the unknown is the worst part. Is this life-threatening? Should I call an ambulance? How long have I got to weather this storm?
Today, I am going to run through a few different causes of stomach cramps as well as a few remedies to make them as brief as possible.
- Food poisoning
Whilst this sounds sinister, it actually refers to when your meal contains germs that have an adverse effect on your health. No need to hire a cupbearer to taste your food before you eat it. Generally, you will end up with cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. All the good stuff. Depending on how contaminated your food was, these can last an hour or so, or even a few days if you are super unlucky. Mostly, you will recover without seeing a doctor. Make sure you keep your fluids up and try Buscopan to relieve the cramping. Children under five, pregnant women, and the elderly are more likely to have complications, and you should consider seeking medical help immediately.
This will often be confused with food poisoning because they share so many symptoms. However, it is a virus which is contagious, picked up from other infected people. This means unlike food poisoning, you become a risk to those around you. It becomes very important that everything in your immediate vicinity is sterilised and cleaned so that the people looking after you don’t end up joining you. Be on the lookout for watery diarrhea, cramps, muscle aches, fever, nausea, and vomiting. There’s not a lot you can do but weather the storm. Avoid solid foods (it’s easier on your stomach), keep up your liquids – especially sports drinks that have hydrolytes – and pick up some Buscopan forte to minimise the cramping. Rest up. You’ll prolong your convalescence if you don’t chill out.
- Food allergy
Your body is a wonderful thing (and I say that in the most platonic, least John Mayer-ish possible way possible). It has a whole host of defences to keep it safe from external germs and nasties that would like nothing more than to make you sick. It is just that sometimes, that defence force accidently identifies something as a threat when actually it is perfectly harmless. This is the basis for every allergic reaction. The most common allergens in food are shellfish, nuts, dairy, and eggs. The moment this is ingested, an allergic person’s body will begin to produce histamines to try and expel this ‘dangerous substance’. The result? Cramps, nausea… Worst case scenario is a process called anaphylaxis which can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, swelling of the throat, and trouble breathing and swallowing. This is a medical emergency. An epipen must be administered and 000 should be called immediately.
- Menstrual cramps
During your period, your uterus contracts and expels the old lining. A hormonelike substance called prostaglandins which are linked to pain and inflammation trigger these contractions. Anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and a heat pack can take the edge off.
For most cases (anaphylaxis aside), there are a number of things we can do at home to relieve the discomfort of stomach cramps. I’d like you to meet my friend Buscopan and Buscopan Forte. They work by relaxing the cramping stomach and bowel muscles, and can start to be felt within 15 minutes. The best part is that it doesn’t upset your stomach so you can take it with or without food. You also can’t really overdose if you mistake the doses; having said that, you should always follow the instructions on the packaging. Side effects are pretty uncommon (usually about one in one hundred people) but some people will experience a dry mouth, constipation and blurred vision. It is extremely rare, but you should stop taking Buscapan and call a doctor straight away if you get a painful red eye and begin to lose vision, and if you have difficulty urinating. If you’re on Buscopan Forte for more than two weeks, you should seek medical help. It might well be that you have something more significant which needs some love and attention.
There are a few things to consider before taking Buscopan. Seek medical advice if you:
- Have had an allergic reaction to a similar medicine
- Have been advised that you have glaucoma
- Have an enlarged bowel, or other bowel issues
- Are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding
- Have recently passed blood in your stool
- Have had unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Have a thyroid that is overactive
I am a big fan of Buscopan. It is quick acting, not complicated to take and provides much needed relief when dealing with stomach cramps. As always, we have got deep shelves and so have a browse of our products today. If you have any questions feel free to get in touch.
Floyd – Senior Pharmacist