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What Are the Causes of a Dull Stomach Ache?

By Marisa O'Connor
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Dull pain in the stomach may be caused by a wide variety of different factors, including gastritis, ulcers, and urinary tract infections. In more serious cases, a hiatal hernia or miscarriage could cause this type of pain as well. Someone suffering from a persistent dull ache should see a medical professional so that serious causes can be ruled out.

Gastritis is one of the most common causes of a dull stomach ache. This term is used for stomach inflammation or, more specifically, inflammation of the stomach lining. There are many different factors that can lead to gastritis, such as bacterial infection, swallowing poisons, and some medications. Food allergies, stomach trauma, and even physical stress from the flu can cause inflammation as well. If left untreated, gastritis can lead to stomach ulcers.

A stomach ulcer, or peptic ulcer, is another leading cause of dull pain in the stomach. This is a painful sore on the lining of the stomach, and it may cause burning pain in the stomach between meals, heartburn, and vomiting. Many ulcers will heal on their own, but they can cause serious digestive problems, bleeding, and even create a hole in the stomach wall if not properly cared for.

One of the more serious conditions that can cause a dull stomach ache is a hiatal hernia. This is when the upper stomach squeezes through an opening in the diaphragm. This opening is supposed to allow the esophagus to pass through, but if there is too much pressure in the stomach and the opening is weak, it can result in a hernia. Muscle weakness might be caused by overexertion, poor nutrition, or smoking, and stomach pressure is often caused by constipation, obesity, or constant coughing or sneezing.

Menstrual cramps can also cause a stomach pain, although it generally occurs more in the lower abdomen and may spread to the low back. It may be chronic pain or come in waves. Other symptoms that may be present with menstrual cramps are bloating, nausea, and fatigue. There are many options available to treat menstrual cramping, such as over-the-counter medications, heating pads, and exercise.

A dull stomach ache might be a sign of a miscarriage. If stomach pain occurs during pregnancy or if there is a possibility of pregnancy, a medical professional should be consulted right away. Bleeding is usually the first symptom of a miscarriage, followed by abdominal pain that may be a dull ache, sharp pain, or cramping similar to menstrual cramps.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) may also cause a stomach ache, and it can affect the urethra and bladder; in more serious cases, the bacteria can move into the kidneys. If this is the case, the pain will typically be accompanied by frequent or uncontrollable urges to urinate and cloudy or foul-smelling urine.

If the pain is accompanied by other symptoms, patients should probably see a medical professional. This is particularly important if the person is also experiencing a fever, vomiting, constipation, difficulty breathing, or painful or frequent urination. If the pain lasts for several days or occurs during pregnancy, there is cause for concern. Any time there is blood in the stool or vomit, the person should seek immediate medical attention.

Treatment for a dull stomach ache depends on the cause and may be as simple as adjusting the patient's diet and exercise habits and reducing stress. Medications may be prescribed for infections and inflammation. In some cases, such as a hernia, surgery may be required.

Does Ginger Ale Help With Stomach Aches?

A common home remedy for stomach aches is to drink ginger ale. While not a replacement for proper medical care, it may be useful to consider this and other ways that you can make yourself feel more comfortable at home. There are mixed opinions from medical professionals about whether ginger ale actually helps with nausea and stomach pain or not.

The reason why ginger ale is believed to help is that it has ginger in it. Ginger is a common remedy for digestion problems and inflammation and is believed to have many health properties that make it beneficial. Unfortunately, many brands of ginger ale do not contain real ginger at all but are made using artificial flavorings to replicate the taste. 

Soda on its own does not have any science-backed evidence of easing stomach pain and nausea. Some specialists have pointed out that the gas bubbles that cause soda to be fizzy could make bloating and pain worse. If you are looking for a better option, you may want to try ginger tea instead. There are many recipes for making it at home, or you can try prepackaged tea bags with ginger-rich blends. 

Other Home Remedies to Consider

Along with ginger tea, there are other home remedies that may help ease your symptoms. One of these is mint, which, like ginger, can easily be ingested in a tea form. Remember that while it may help, too much tea can have the opposite effect, so it is best to drink it in moderation when you're not feeling well. 

One of the best things you can do to help yourself feel better is to stay hydrated by sipping on water. You can also take a warm bath to help ease any cramping or pain. Getting plenty of rest is a good idea, but it may be advisable to sit upright rather than laying down, as it helps keep stomach acid down so that you do not experience heartburn. 

How to Sleep With a Stomach Ache

It can be difficult to sleep with a stomach ache, as painful symptoms can keep you from getting comfortable. Depending on what is causing your stomach to ache, medications such as antacids or pain relievers for cramps can help. If you are dealing with a more serious or chronic medical issue, it is best to speak with a doctor before taking medications, but in most cases, you can treat mild stomach aches with over-the-counter medicine. 

In addition to taking the proper medicine for your situation, you can also try taking steps to make yourself more comfortable. Wear soft, loose-fitting clothing to bed and make sure the temperature of the room is comfortable for you.

Try sleeping on your side to promote proper digestion, especially if your stomach is hurting after eating a large meal. It is important not to try and force yourself to sleep if you do not feel tired. Try doing a relaxing activity to help you unwind, such as reading or meditating before going to bed. Avoid snacking or eating meals within a few hours of going to bed, as they might worsen your stomach problems. 

What to Eat With Stomach Ache 

Paying attention to what you eat, especially if you are nauseous is important to helping the stomach ache go away. Starchy foods, such as rice and bread can help ease nausea as well as alleviate symptoms associated with stomachaches such as diarrhea. Bananas and applesauce can also be good options that are gentle on your stomach. 

If you are throwing up and having a difficult time keeping food down, it can be a good idea to stick to liquid options. Chicken broth can be a good option if you need to get some nutrients without eating solid foods. 

Foods to avoid

While certain foods can help with your stomach ache, there are many that should be avoided. Dairy foods, such as milk and cheese are often irritating to your stomach, especially if you are already feeling sick. Greasy foods should also be avoided as they are difficult for your body to digest. While usually good for you, vegetables should also be avoided for similar the similar reason that they take a long time to digest and can be hard on your stomach. 

In addition to avoiding the above categories of food, you should also stay away from smoking and alcohol while you're sick. Both of these can cause irritation that makes it more likely for you to throw up and can make your recovery time from almost any kind of sickness longer. 

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Discussion Comments
By donasmrs — On Oct 19, 2013

I had a dull stomach ache for the first two months of my pregnancy. Nausea and stomach aches were actually the first signs of pregnancy I had. I think my stomach aches were caused by morning sickness. It went away after the second month.

By ddljohn — On Oct 18, 2013

@fBoyle-- Unfortunately, gastritis can do that.

Have you been checked for ulcers, stomach bacteria or food allergies?

Usually there is an underlying cause for the gastritis, something that's irritating your digestive system and causing acidity and pain. You need to get additional tests to figure out the cause. Treatment might be surprisingly simple.

I had gastritis several years ago and after seeing several doctors, I was finally diagnosed with a stomach bug. I suffered for more than a year from stomach aches, cramps, acid reflux and nausea. Guess what the treatment was? Antibiotics! I just had to take antibiotics and the problem disappeared.

If you have an ulcer, treatment can be longer and more difficult. But if it's a bacteria or a food allergy, treatment is fairly easy.

By fBoyle — On Oct 17, 2013

I have a dull stomach ache for most of the day because of my gastritis. I do get cramps when my stomach is empty for a long time or when I eat or drink something acidic. But even when I'm eating the right foods and taking my medication, there is a constant stomach ache that bothers me.

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