Abdominal pain and cramps can seriously affect our ability to enjoy our lives. The good news is that there is a range of things we can do to minimise the negative effect of abdominal pain and to prevent it from recurring. From proven home remedies to safe and reliable over-the-counter antispasmodic medication: you don't have to let abdominal pain and cramps control your life.
This section of the Buscopan® website presents information on how to reduce the impact of abdominal pain and cramps, as well as tips for how to prevent it from returning. Information is divided into advice for sufferers of abdominal cramps and IBS, and for sufferers of menstrual pain.
If you are troubled by recurring abdominal pain and cramps and/or have disturbed bowel habits (diarrhoea, constipation), bloating or flatulence, or if you have fever and/or weight loss, it is very important that you visit your health care professional. She or he will be able to carry out tests to define the source of the problem. If no other cause can be found, your doctor may diagnose you with IBS. It is essential, however, to discuss your symptoms with your doctor: this ensures that you are able to help yourself in the most effective and safest way possible.
Medical research has shown that there is a clear relationship between physical well-being and stress. Our bodies react to increased mental and emotional demands by adopting a mild "fight or flight" response. For short periods, this response enhances our physical and mental performance to help us overcome the immediate challenge. But if stress is constant, this response can lead to fatigue, tension and disturbed physical processes. In addition to abdominal pain, a number of other common ailments are known to be caused by or worsened by stress, including:
Identify sources of stress
In contemporary society, it is almost impossible to lead a completely stress-free life. The first step to gaining control over stress-induced abdominal pain is to identify the stress factors in your life that trigger an attack. You can do this by keeping a diary in which you record the events, people and places that your experience in your daily life. Note when you have an attack of abdominal pain. After a meeting with your supervisor at work? Before a mathematics lesson? At a family gathering? After watching an action movie? At a formal cocktail party? After some time, you will be able to identify the types of stress that induce the pain.
Take control over the stress-trigger
If possible, take a "stress holiday": try simply avoiding the situations that you know will cause you stress. If the stress-trigger is something that you can't avoid, you can diffuse a lot of the underlying tension simply by acknowledging that the situation is difficult for you. If possible, discuss the source of stress with a sympathetic friend, counsellor or psychologist. They may be able to help you develop a strategy for feeling more in control of the situation. Recognising and changing stressful patterns in your life may not only free you from abdominal pain, but may also help you feel more positive and self-confident, both privately and professionally.
If you suffer from abdominal pain or cramps, you will have probably noticed that some foods trigger the symptoms more than others. The best way to identify which are your "trigger" foods is to keep an Abdominal Pain Diary for a number of weeks. In general, there are some types of foods that are common triggers of abdominal pain and cramps. These are:
Monitor the effect of these foods on your symptoms. Avoid them if they trigger an attack. Your healthcare professional may prescribe a diagnostic test known as a multiple exclusion diet: potential triggers are eliminated entirely from the diet, then re-introduced one by one. This helps identify the most troublesome foods. An Abdominal Pain Diary can be downloaded here.
There are no "golden rules" about exactly what foods will always trigger an attack of painful abdominal pain and cramps. The most effective way of establishing which foods irritate your digestion is with the help of an Abdominal Pain Diary.
Simply note the meals, snacks and drinks that you consume during the day. Also record the events, people and situations you encounter. You don't need to continue this indefinitely: as a diagnostic tool, it gives you an insight into your trigger foods and situations after just a few weeks.