Upset Stomach: Types, Causes, Symptoms and How to Relieve That Annoying Sensation

You know that feeling when your stomach starts to hurt and you feel nauseous?

An upset stomach can turn a normal day into a rough one.

You might be wondering: was it that slice of pizza I ate late at night or something more serious? Whether it’s indigestion , heartburn, nausea, or something else, your upset stomach may be telling you something.

Why is my stomach upset?

There is no single cause of an upset stomach. A stomach ache can be the result of several different factors, which can be frustrating for those with an upset stomach. Here are some explanations:

What Causes Gas?

Gas is mainly caused by the fermentation of undigested food in a person’s colon. More specifically, gas is formed when bacteria in the colon break down carbohydrates that were not digested in the small intestine.

Unfortunately, nutritious, high-fiber foods are often the culprit. Fiber keeps the digestive tract in its best shape, but it can also create gas.

Fiber supplements can also be a culprit when consumed in a person’s diet too quickly.

Other causes of gas include:

  • Changes in bacteria in the intestine.
  • Food residue in the colon.
  • Bad absorption of carbohydrates.
  • Constipation.
Relieving gas

Gas can make a person feel uncomfortable and bloated. If you’re looking for gas relief, try going for a walk after eating or taking an over-the-counter medicine to help ease symptoms.

Causes of nausea

Nausea can be the main culprit for an upset stomach. Nausea is uncomfortable and often stops a person in their tracks.

It may seem that the feeling of dizziness will never go away. However, what causes nausea can sometimes be complicated and difficult to pin down. Nausea is commonly caused by:

  • Stomach flu
  • Migraine.
  • Rotavirus.
  • Morning sickness.
  • Cinetosis.
  • Intoxicated food.

Nausea can also be a warning sign for certain medical conditions or a symptom of more serious conditions. Some of those conditions include:

Nausea relief

When you are nauseous, it is common to want instant relief. The best way to find relief is by taking a non-prescription motion sickness medication such as Dramamine, it is important to consume it calmly.

If over-the-counter medications still aren’t relieving nausea, make an appointment with your doctor to make sure your nausea isn’t a sign of a more serious medical condition.


Sometimes, but not always, nausea and vomiting go hand in hand. Vomiting is uncomfortable and can come in waves until the stomach has emptied its contents.

When the stomach has been emptied through vomiting, but you are still trying to eliminate its contents, it is known as dry jerking.

Causes of vomiting

Many things can cause vomiting, such as:

  • Stomach flu
  • Intoxicated food.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Migraines
  • Morning sickness.
  • Cinetosis.
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Excessive use of alcohol
How to stop vomiting?

If you are vomiting, it is important to keep your body hydrated, lie down, and consider taking medication. If your vomiting has lasted more than two days and you are not finding relief or a solution, then you should contact your primary care provider to rule out more complicated medical conditions.

What is heartburn?

Heartburn is the burning sensation in the chest and is often worse when bending over or lying down. It occurs when acid from the stomach flows back into the esophagus.

Causes of heartburn

A common cause of heartburn is the acid reflux condition. Acid reflux is the flow of what is known as stomach acid into a person’s esophagus, which can cause a burning sensation in the chest. Other causes of heartburn are:

  • Eating too fast.
  • The pregnancy.
  • Alcohol.
  • Fatty and greasy foods.
Relief from heartburn

Occasionally experiencing heartburn is common and should not cause a person to feel alarmed or concerned.

An antacid can help ease heartburn pain. However, if an individual experiences heartburn regularly and it interferes with their daily routine, it could be a sign of a more serious medical condition that may require the attention of a medical professional.

Causes of indigestion

Indigestion is the discomfort that a person feels in the upper part of the stomach.

People with indigestion often experience feeling full early at a meal or an uncomfortable feeling of fullness after a meal, such as discomfort or burning in the stomach and bloating.

Indigestion is often triggered by medications, as well as different foods and drinks. More specifically, it can be caused by:

  • Eating too fast.
  • Eat excessively.
  • Spicy or greasy foods.
  • Smoke.
  • Too much caffeine, alcohol, or chocolate.
  • Antibiotics, pain relievers, and supplements.

Some medical conditions can cause indigestion, such as ulcers, gallstones, constipation, or celiac disease.

Relief can come from eating smaller meals, cutting out caffeine, and taking certain pain relievers. If these methods are not enough to relieve indigestion, you should consult your doctor.

What Causes Swelling?

Feeling bloated can hurt anyone’s day. But what is the cause of the swelling?

Bloating occurs when gas that must pass through flatulence or belching stays inside in the stomach and intestines. This condition can cause abdominal pain that can range from mild to severe.

Common causes of bloating are:

  • Fatty foods.
  • Carbonated drinks.
  • Eating too fast.
  • Stress.
  • Gastrointestinal infection.

The most serious causes of bloating include the well-known celiac disease, as well as lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome.

How to relieve swelling?

Commonly, flatulence, belching or having a bowel movement will end the bloating. Other forms of relief for bloating include reducing your intake of gas-producing foods.

If having a bowel movement or burping does not help to reduce the swelling, call your doctor as you could have a more complicated medical condition to deal with.

On the other hand, as explained at the beginning, there is a wide variety of possible causes to explain your upset stomach, among the other associated factors are:

The type of food and drink you eat

If you have an upset stomach, it may be something you’ve eaten or drunk. So this could be caused by:

  • Food poisoning: When food becomes contaminated with viruses, bacteria, or parasites, it can usually cause an upset stomach such as nausea, vomiting, or fever.
  • Eating and drinking excessively: If you eat or drink too much, you may have indigestion or an upset stomach.
  • Eating certain types of food – Greasy, spicy, or acidic foods can sometimes cause indigestion or an upset stomach.

Lifestyle factors

An upset stomach can also be caused by factors related to the lifestyle that the person leads during their routine, such as:

  • Eating too fast or eating on the run.
  • Continual emotional stress.
  • Persistent smoking habits.
  • Too much alcohol or caffeine.
  • Trips that cause dizziness and discomfort.

Medical reasons

An upset stomach is usually a mild problem that goes away on its own. But sometimes it can be the sign of a medical problem, such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), ulcers, lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, some intestinal infection and there is also the possibility of being some type of cancer.

An upset stomach can also be a sign of pregnancy. If you think you might be pregnant, then take a pregnancy test and check with your doctor before using any product to treat your upset stomach. Since not all products are safe for pregnant women.

Consult your doctor if you notice any of the above symptoms persist longer than they should.

 What can I do to ease my upset stomach?

You can usually treat your upset stomach at home with affordable medications such as:

  • Bismuth subsalicylate.
  • Anti-nausea medicine that contains dimenhydrinate.
  • Antacids that contain calcium carbonate, aluminum or magnesium hydroxide.
  • Over-the-counter strength anticoagulants that contain famotidine or ranitidine.

When trying an over-the-counter product, make sure the product is right for you. Always read and follow the directions on the labels. Also check with your pharmacist if you have any questions.

On the other hand, you should consult your doctor if you have persistent difficulty in:

  • Swallow.
  • If you have bloody or black tarry stools (note that bismuth subsalicylate may darken stools).
  • You have bleeding from the rectum.
  • You have a fever or chills.
  • Unexplained weight loss or fatigue.
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Blood in vomit
  • Moderate to severe abdominal pain.
  • Dehydration
  • Absence of bowel movements for 7 days.
  • Pencil-thin stools or bowel problems that keep coming back.

These tips are intended for adults. If your baby or child has an upset stomach, get medical help right away.