It’s another morning and you wake up with the all too familiar feeling of stomach pain. A wave of nausea pushes you and your distended stomach out of bed. The bathroom is no help. Breakfast is unappetizing, and you are wondering, why does my stomach hurt when I wake up?
Morning stomach pain is extremely common and has many treatments. It can be caused by acid reflux, gastritis, anxiety, or having an empty stomach. All of these symptoms can be treated, and prevented by tracking what foods trigger the pain and regulating your amount of sleep.
Why Does My Stomach Hurt In The Morning?
Morning stomach pain is caused by anxiety, poor diet, or gastrointestinal (GI) tract inflammation. However, none of these causes are mutually exclusive, and each system may impact the next. A poor diet or anxiety can lead to GI tract issues, and GI shedding can limit your diet to particular foods.
The morning is usually the longest a person goes without eating. This causes their stomach to be empty and more susceptible to changes in stomach acid pH. Over time, an acidic stomach can cause issues with the stomach lining and would be shown as pain or bloating.
Is Your Morning Stomach Pain Harmless?
Morning stomach pain is usually harmless and temporary. You may be asking why my stomach hurts in the morning when I wake up early, and it is likely due to hunger or occasional indigestion. This type of pain may resolve on its own or with simple remedies.
Occasional and mild morning stomach pain that resolves quickly and does not significantly impact your daily life, is not a major concern. Frequent severe pain in the morning or if symptoms worsen, it is advisable to seek medical evaluation.
Severe stomach pain can be a symptom of more problematic GI tract issues. Celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or pelvic inflammatory disease commonly manifest themselves as persistent stomach pain. While all of these are treatable, persistent stomach pain should be evaluated by a medical professional.
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Why Does My Stomach Hurt When I Wake Up?
If you are asking “Why does my stomach hurt every morning when I wake up”, the problems could be easy to address. One explanation is that your stomach is empty in the morning due to overnight fasting, leading to hunger pangs or discomfort. This would explain why pain is specifically occurring when you wake up and not nighttime stomach pain.
Another possibility is that lying down during sleep allows stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, causing acid reflux and resulting in morning stomach pain. This would lead to a burning sensation in your upper abdomen and can cause stomach ulcers. Fortunately, nighttime acid reflux can be easily solved by keeping your head up while you sleep.
Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, refers to a condition characterized by discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen, often accompanied by symptoms such as bloating, belching, and nausea. Gastroenterologists believe various factors can contribute to indigestion including, overeating, consuming processed or fatty foods, and taking certain medications. It can be caused by various factors, including overeating, eating too quickly, consuming fatty or spicy foods, excessive caffeine or alcohol intake, smoking, stress, and certain medications.
Some treatments for indigestion that can reduce the likelihood of it causing morning stomach pain include adopting a healthy diet or limiting foods that commonly cause indigestion. Dietary changes such as decreasing processed food consumption and increasing fibrous plants have been shown to decrease indigestion. Limiting processed, spicy, or extremely rich foods can also be beneficial.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic GI disorder that affects the large intestine. IBS disrupts bowel movements causing constipation, stomach ache, and other digestive issues. The exact cause of IBS is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of factors, including abnormal intestinal contractions, heightened sensitivity of the intestines, changes in the gut microbiota, and disturbances in the communication between the brain and the gut.
Acid reflux is caused by stomach acid moving up the esophagus and can be both a symptom and cause of morning stomach pain. Normally, there is a muscle (lower esophageal sphincter) that contracts at the base of the esophagus to prevent stomach acid from exiting the stomach. However, diet changes, smoking, or pregnancy can weaken this muscle and cause acid reflux.
Acid reflux manifests itself as abdominal and stomach pain but is treatable with medication, dietary changes, or lifestyle modifications. Medications such as antacids and H2 blockers function to neutralize stomach acid and prevent stomach acid build. Most medications are available over the counter at a local pharmacy.
How To Fall Back To Sleep?
Falling back asleep after experiencing stomach or abdominal pain can be challenging due to the discomfort and potential symptoms. Antacids work to neutralize stomach acid and prevent stomach acid buildup at night and can be used to settle the stomach before going back to sleep. For stomach cramps, or burning or dull pain, it is recommended to try different positions that alleviate these muscle contractions and allow normal digestive movement. Squiggle until you feel comfortable and that should be the best position for your stomach.
Tips To Prevent Stomach Pain In The Morning
Waking up and asking “Why does my stomach hurt when I wake up before eating” gets old! Try these at-home remedies and some over-the-counter treatments for morning stomach pain:
At-home remedies include
- Eat a balanced breakfast: Start your day with a nutritious breakfast that includes fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid foods that are known to trigger your symptoms.
- Peppermint tea: Peppermint has soothing properties that can help relieve stomach discomfort. Sip on a cup of warm peppermint tea in the morning to ease morning stomach pain.
- Ginger: Ginger has been traditionally used to alleviate digestive symptoms. You can try drinking ginger tea or chewing on a small piece of fresh ginger to help calm the stomach
- Antacids: Antacids work by neutralizing stomach acid and can provide quick relief from acid-related stomach pain. Examples include Tums, Rolaids, and Maalox.
- Acid reducers: These medications reduce the production of stomach acid and can provide longer-lasting relief. Examples include H2 blockers such as ranitidine (Zantac) and famotidine (Pepcid AC).
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): PPIs are stronger acid-reducing medications that are used to treat more severe or chronic cases of acid reflux or stomach ulcers. Examples include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and esomeprazole (Nexium).
When To See A Doctor For Abdominal Pain
Morning stomach pain can be circumstantial but if you are experiencing severe stomach pain or recurring abdominal pain followed by vomiting, unintended weight loss, or other symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical help. Additionally, prolonged disruption of a bowel movement or any blood in the stool is a sign of a more serious condition. Be sure to get professional medical treatment as these may be a sign of something more severe.
Stomach pain is an uncomfortable experience that can be caused by a variety of sources. While occasional and mild pain in the morning can occur from benign sources, like having an empty stomach, persistent pain should prompt a hospital visit, especially if you are experiencing chronic pain. Dietary changes to include more fiber and less processed foods have been shown to help alleviate pain. Other treatments include over-the-counter antacids or medications to help acidify your gut pH.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many causes for this to happen but most likely it is because this is the longest fasting period your body goes through. An empty stomach still produces stomach acid and that can hurt the stomach lining over time.
Changes in diet are the easiest solution to this problem as fatty, spicy, and processed foods are the most common cause of acid reflux and stomach cramps.
Medical attention is recommended if symptoms worsen, or are persistent. If there are any other symptoms such as bloody diarrhea or trouble breathing, then medical attention should be seen quickly.
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