You eat a meal. Your stomach hurts. You pop an over-the-counter medication. You feel better. Or sometimes you don’t.
The usual suspect
In many cases, it’s a simple case of indigestion (also called dyspepsia), which causes abdominal pain, bloating and feelings of fullness. As long as it only happens occasionally, that’s probably all it is.
But if it happens frequently, or if symptoms last for a week or more and medications don’t alleviate the issues, it could be something more serious, said gastroenterologist Mayra Sanchez, MD, who practices in central and western Connecticut.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a common, chronic disorder that affects the large intestine. It can develop after a severe bout of diarrhea (gastroenteritis) caused by bacteria or a virus, or might also be associated with a surplus of bacteria in the intestines. People exposed to stressful events, especially in childhood, tend to have more symptoms of IBS.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Also known as GERD, this condition happens when stomach acid irritates the lining of your esophagus, creating heartburn and stomach pain in the process.
Celiac disease
Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten that can impact sufferers in different ways. One is stomach pain after you eat gluten. With celiac, a person’s small intestine becomes damaged when they eat gluten.
Also known as “slow stomach,” gastroparesis results in partial paralysis of your stomach muscles and prevents proper digestion. Because of this, food remains in your stomach longer and your stomach can’t accommodate more. This results in cramping or spasms, nausea or vomiting.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
SIBO is a condition in which the small intestine is colonized with micro-organisms that normally live in the large intestine. You have more than 100 trillion microbes in your body. They stimulate the immune system, help digest food, and synthesize vitamins like vitamins K and B.

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