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Head to the bathroom

Head to the bathroom
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Pinpointing what’s behind a stomach ache can be hard, but pain in the lower abdominal area could be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome, says gastroenterologist, Dr Steven Fleisher. Waking up with some stomach pain in the morning is probably your digestive system trying to kick-start after a night of sleeping, but a trip to the bathroom should help. “The hallmark is that once you get to the bathroom and are able to have a bowel movement, typically the pain or discomfort is relieved as part of the process,” he says.

Here are some things your stomach is trying to tell you.

Call the doctor

Call the doctor
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Because stomach aches are such a vague symptom, calling a medical expert could help you figure out if you need to worry. (Or visit your doctor or head to the emergency department, especially if the pain is more severe.) Depending on factors like the location and sensation of your pain, a doctor can advise whether you should go to the ER, make an appointment with your primary care doc, or start with some at-home treatments, says Dr Jonathan Cohen. “There’s no downside to calling your general doctor and talking it over,” he says: “Doctors, by asking a few questions, can help make a better, smarter decision as to whether it’s an alarm.” Definitely call your doctor immediately if your pain is severe, basic remedies don’t help, you have bloody diarrhoea or vomit, or being sick is making you lightheaded, Dr Fleisher says.

Find out which foods are natural laxatives.

Ask if your dining partners are on the same boat

Ask if your dining partners are on the same boat
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Fear food poisoning?  If you ate at a restaurant, you might hear on the news that others got sick too. Check-in with your family or anyone else you ate dinner with to see if they’re feeling symptoms like stomach pain in the morning the next day. “Often, more than one person will be afflicted,” says Dr Fleisher.

Read on for some things you need to know about food poisoning.

Consider calling your boss

Consider calling your boss
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There are a few factors to consider when deciding if you should call in sick. If the stomach pain is nothing new (even if it’s a bit worse than usual) or OTC medications seem to be working, you could probably handle a day in the office. But if the stomach ache feels atypical or could be a symptom of a stomach bug, take the day off. “If pain is sudden and out of the blue, that should give one pause,” says Dr Fleisher. “Especially it’s severe, you might want to check in with your provider before heading in to work.”

Make yourself breakfast

Make yourself breakfast
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No need to skip breakfast if a stomach ache is your only symptom and the thought of eating doesn’t make you queasy. Getting something in your stomach could help ease any tummy troubles, says Dr Cohen. But hold off on your usual greasy bacon and egg roll, says Dr David Greenwald. “Stick to things that are more bland or simple to digest,” he says. He suggests avoiding foods that are bad for digestion by spreading toast with jam instead of oily butter and swapping out complex multigrain dry cereals for simple oatmeal.

Here are some healthy breakfast ideas to start each day right.

Skip that second (or first) cup of coffee

Skip that second (or first) cup of coffee
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If acid reflux is causing some belly issues like stomach pain in the morning, consider cutting down or, even better, cutting out. Caffeine is a double whammy in people with digestive issues, says Dr Fleisher. For one thing, it can relax pressure on the valve between the oesophagus and stomach, making it easier for the acid to splash back up. Plus, it makes the intestine work harder, which could lead to diarrhoea, he says. If you think coffee could be the culprit, try eliminating it for a week, suggests Dr Greenwald. “The only way to know is to limit it for a defined period of time and see if the symptoms get better,” he says. “It’s hard to say ‘don’t do it forever,’ but it’s easy to do for a week.” That said, if you’re constipated and bloated, caffeine is just one of the many foods that act like a natural laxative. It helps things move along naturally so you can get relief from a bathroom break quicker, says Dr Cohen.

Find out how to make good coffee here.

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Hop on the treadmill

Hop on the treadmill
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Exercise helps digestive problems, so following through with your morning workout could actually relieve those tummy issues, says Dr Fleisher. Just don’t push your body if the pain makes movement unbearable. “You would want to exercise only if you were able to have the pain somewhat relieved before embarking on anything strenuous,” he says. If the pain isn’t going away, hold off on physical activity until you know what’s wrong and can treat it.

Start off strong

Start off strong
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Look to OTC medications for some relief. Dr Fleisher recommends going straight for proton-pump inhibitors – or the “big guns,” as he calls them. PPIs such as Losec or Nexium reduce acid by blocking acid production in the stomach. As long as you take them for only ten to 14 days, “they are probably pretty safe and probably most effective, and give you the most bang for your buck,” he says. Reach for PPIs when the pain is primarily a burning/heartburn type of pain. Stop taking the medication and talk to your doctor if you get side effects like diarrhoea, worsened stomach pain, or muscle cramping.

Read on for the natural heartburn home remedies everyone should know.

Try an anti-gas drug

Try an anti-gas drug
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AN OTC anti-gas medication can ease your stomach ache when you’re feeling gassy. “It basically just bursts bubbles,” says Dr Greenwald. “So if you get a glass of water with a bunch of bubbles, it breaks up the bubbles, and it basically does the same thing in your stomach.” Because your body doesn’t absorb simethicone, the medication doesn’t have any common side effects, so you can use it four times a day without concern, he says.

Find out what your farts can reveal about your health.

Pop an antacid

Pop an antacid
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For an OTC option that isn’t so severe, give an antacid a try. “They are probably going to take the edge off of some symptoms and give some immediate relief,” says Dr Fleisher. But they’re targeting the symptom, not any underlying condition, so talk to your doctor if the pain doesn’t get better.

These are the foods to avoid if you have acid reflux or digestion issues.

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