Gastric Pain

WHAT IS GASTRIC PAIN

Gastric pain usually refers to pain that is felt in the upper central part of the abomen underneath the lowest point of the sternum. This is the area that most people asscociate with ‘Gastric’ pain

Despite the use of the word ‘Pain’, there are other sensations that can be experienced in this area.

Bloatedness and Distension is often described by patients. Some will also describe it as ‘Indigestion’ or a sensation of food remaining in the stomach. Some patients may also describe a Burning sensation or a Squeezing-type pain.

WHY DO WE GET GASTRIC PAIN

Gastric pain can arise from various causes, some of which arise from the stomach and others from organs around  the stomach

Gastritis

Gastritis is a very common cause of gastric pain. The causes of Gastritis relate to increased acid production and weakened defences of the stomach lining and these include psychological stress, smoking, alcohol intake, certain painkillers and drugs and Helicobacter.pylori.

Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)

GERD is related to Gastritis and often occurs together. GERD tends to present with symptoms such as Heartburn and gastric washback to the throat and mouth.

Gallstones

Unknown to many, the symptoms related to Gallstones often mimic that of gastric pain. The symptoms can take the form of gastric bloatedness, indigestion and outright gastric pain. The pain from Gallstones usually start after a meal, particularly a heavy or oily meal.

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. The two commonest causes are Gallstones and Alcohol. Pancreatitis is a severe condition that can lead to multi-organ failure.

Heart attack

Cardiac pain and heart attacks can sometimes take the form of gastric pain or indigestion. This is why sudden onset of gastric pain needs to be properly evaluated.

WHEN SHOULD I SEEK HELP

Any form of severe gastric pain or pain lasting for more than a week is sufficient justification for seeking medical advice. Associated symptoms such as fever, vomiting, cold sweats and shortness of breath are also reasons to seek medical care.

WHAT ARE THE INVESTIGATIONS

Most cases of gastric pain are investigated with a combination of blood tests, an ultrasound of the liver and gallbladder, ECG and a Gastroscopy

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