Epigastralgia is one of the most common gastrointestinal pain. In most cases, it is due to indigestion, although it can also be caused by physical ailments, especially esophageal reflux.
In this article we will analyze what pain in the epigastrium is, what other symptoms are associated with it, what are its most common causes and what treatments are available to fight it.
What is epigastric pain?
The term “epigastralgia” is used to denote the pain that occurs in the epigastrium. This name corresponds to the upper medial part of the abdomen, located between the navel and the ribs, behind the breastbone.
In the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), epigastralgia is listed as “epigastric pain”. In this manual, it is generally referred to as indigestion or dyspepsia, although there are many possible causes of this type of pain.
In particular epigastralgia is linked to esophageal reflux, Which causes heartburn and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Although epigastric pain alone is not considered a serious symptom, it can be caused by this condition and others that require medical intervention.
Epigastric pain is itself a symptom of various diseases and transient changes that affect the stomach. It can appear in isolation, but it is very common for other gastrointestinal symptoms to occur simultaneously, which vary depending on the specific causes of the discomfort.
So, pain in the epigastrium is often accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Acidity, burn or agrarian (stomach pains)
- Swelling of the stomach
- Excessive feeling of fullness after eating
- Rashes with or without regurgitation of food or fluid
- Loss of appetite
- Insomnia (as a result of discomfort)
Causes of epigastric pain
The main causes of epigastric pain they are linked to the digestive systemAlthough this symptom can also be due to alterations in other parts of the body.
1. Dyspepsia (indigestion)
“Dyspepsia” is the general term used to refer to any disorder affecting digestion, so it is a very common syndrome in the general population and in people who see a doctor. In addition to epigastric pain, it can cause other gastrointestinal symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, and gas.
It is a predominantly mild disorder, which can be transient or chronic and is usually caused by poor nutrition. normally indigestion is due to excessive consumption, Being different types of food more or less likely to cause indigestion in each person.
2. Esophageal reflux
Esophageal reflux causes stomach acid to flow into the esophagus, which connects the stomach to the throat; this damages the esophagus and throat, which are not protected by the lining of the stomach.
This disorder can cause symptoms such as epigastric pain, heartburn, difficulty breathing and swallowing, Chronic cough and chest pain, which occurs as a result of inflammation of the esophagus.
3. Alcohol consumption
The consumption of large amounts of alcohol, especially if it occurs chronically, irritates and damages the lining of the stomach, causing inflammation of this organ and greater vulnerability to the acid it produces. In this way, all of the gastrointestinal symptoms that we have previously described can appear.
During pregnancy, the fetus presses on the abdominal walls, Which can cause pain in the epigastrium and other areas of the abdomen. In addition, the hormonal changes that occur during this period can cause acid reflux and other gastrointestinal disturbances, and therefore epigastralgia.
Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining, which protects the stomach from digestive acid. Like epigastritis, it can be caused by a variety of reasons, ranging from poor diet and psychophysiological stress to infections or substance abuse.
6. Peptic ulcer
Peptic ulcers are lesions that occur in the lining of the stomach. They appear when the defenses of the digestive system are not sufficient to control the agents that attack it, mainly Helicobacter pylori infections and excessive and continuous consumption of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Processing and handling
The most appropriate treatment for epigastric pain depends on the cause of the pain. Changing habits is generally very effective, especially when it comes to food; in particular, it is recommended reduce fat intake and the amount of food which is ingested so that the stomach is in the best possible condition.
In some cases, medical intervention may be necessary, especially if the symptoms are very severe or if the cause of the epigastric pain is one of the diseases we mentioned in the previous section, such as peptic ulcer disease and esophageal reflux.
At the symptomatic level, the consumption of omeprazole and others is generally recommended medicines that reduce the production of stomach acid, But only if prescribed by doctors. In general, the best way to manage epigastric pain is to develop healthier eating habits, as indigestion is the most common cause of this problem.
One should be careful while consuming ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs because, as we have said, they can be aggressive on the stomach. If these drugs are taken and symptoms of epigastric pain appear, it is probably more appropriate to change the pain reliever.