The most common causes of stomach cramps are menstruation, viruses, and food poisoning. You can try to prevent stomach cramps and diarrhea by avoiding foods that smell rotten, washing your hands with antibacterial soap after bathroom visits, and cooking meat or fish until it is well done.
If you do get stomach cramps, you can usually treat yourself:
- If you are menstruating, use a heating pad to help relieve some of the pain.
- You can also take a paracetamol like Panado® or an anti-inflammatory like Voltarin®.
- You may have vomiting, fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and joint aches. These symptoms usually last about 24 hours.
- If you have diarrhea with your cramps, try not to take any medicine to stop the diarrhea for the first 2 or 3 hours. The diarrhea may be getting rid of the virus.
- Get plenty of rest
- Eat very light foods like juices, bananas, rice, chicken broth, jelly, etc. You may also be prescribed nausea medication or you can get an anti-nausea pill like Valoid® over the counter at your pharmacy.
- Avoid fatty or highly seasoned foods, dairy products, high fibre foods, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.
Food poisoningYou can get nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration.
- If you have diarrhea with your cramps, try not to take any medicine to stop the diarrhea for the first two or three hours. The diarrhea may be getting rid of an infection.
- After a couple of hours, you can take an over-the-counter anti-diarrhea drug like Valoid®. You can find this at your pharmacy.
- Be sure to drink lots of water or other clear fluids like weak tea or apple juice, or a sports drink, to get back the fluids you lose with diarrhea. Ginger ale helps sooth your stomach, too. If you are worried about dehydrating use a rehydration fluid like Rehidrat®.
- If you feel like eating, eat crackers or white bread, bananas, and rice. It will help stop diarrhea. Don't eat heavy or greasy foods, dairy products, or foods rich in fiber (raw fruits and vegetables or whole-wheat foods) while you have cramps or diarrhea.
- Get plenty of rest.
Call your doctor if:
- You get sudden bad diarrhea with your cramps, or you have a fever of over 38.5°C.
- Your stomach cramps are only in the lower right-hand side of your stomach. (You may need to go to the emergency room if they are in this area).
- You get stomach cramps off and on, and with them you get two or more of these symptoms: shock, weak or fast pulse, chills, chest pain, dry mouth, throwing up, stomach swelling, constipation or can't pass gas, weakness or dizziness, black or bloody stool, you have a fever (anything over 38° C), or your breath is smelling bad.
- Your stomach cramps don't go away after you treat them yourself for a 2 or 3 days.