Cramping. Bloating. Nausea. Aches. Whatever word describes your symptoms, many Americans are ignoring or self-medicating their stomach pain. It’s time to stop and listen to what your stomach is telling you. Use Dr. Oz’s “abdominal clock” to decipher your stomach pain and learn when its telling you it’s time to go to the doctor.
Imagine a clock face over your abdominal area and then ask yourself, “At what time is my pain? Where on this clock do I feel the most discomfort?” The answer can give your doctor important clues as to the cause of, and treatment for, your stomach pain. Here’s how it works:
Stomach Pain at the 12:00 Position
Most common diagnosis: Heartburn At the 12:00 position, your esophagus meets the stomach. When the muscle connecting the 2 relaxes at the wrong time it can allow stomach acid to back up, causing the searing pain known as heartburn.
What you can do: Take OTC antacids neutralize the acid. If after a week, you’re still experiencing heartburn 2 times or more a week, it’s time to see your doctor. When left untreated, chronic heartburn can cause esophageal damage, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and put you at risk for esophageal cancer.
Stomach Pain at the 4:00 Position
Most common diagnosis: Constipation If you’re feeling full and bloated with dull, uncomfortable pain that can be felt in the 2-5:00 area, you’re likely feeling constipated. Between the hours of 2 and 5:00 on the abdominal clock is the location of your descending colon, where the final leg of bowel movements takes place. At this point, stool can become hard and dry – getting stuck in the turns of the descending colon.
What you can do: Drink more and add fiber to your diet. Click here to get acquainted with high-fiber food sources. Next, consider OTC osmotic laxatives or a laxative containing magnesium citrate and alumina-magnesium in its ingredients. The magnesium brings water into your colon, softening stool and encouraging its movement through the descending colon. Don’t be embarrassed to ask a pharmacist for help when selecting a laxative. If there’s still no change in your constipation, see your doctor. Chronic constipation can be a symptom of bowel obstruction, hormone imbalance or deception.
Stomach Pain at the 10:00 Position
Most common diagnosis: Gallstones If you experience a sharp, stabbing pain lasting anywhere from mere seconds to a few hours, you could have gallstones. At 10:00 on Dr. Oz’s abdominal, the gallbladder is located beneath the liver. The gallbladder is charged with producing bile to break down the fat in food. Too much cholesterol in bile leads to the sometimes painful presence of gallstones.
What you can do: While one brief episode is not a cause for alarm, if the pain persists, if you experience it several times, or if it’s accompanied by a fever, go to your doctor immediately.
If your stomach pain requires medical attention, arm yourself with Dr. Oz’s Stomach Pain Checklist so that you can accurately describe what you are feeling.
Dr. Oz’s Stomach Pain Checklist
- Describe Your Pain: First, tell your physician where it hurts using the abdominal clock. Then, be sure to be as accurate as you can with adjectives like: dull, sharp, crampy, achy, bloat, etc.
- Rate Your Pain: On a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being extreme pain.
- What Makes it Worse: Let your physician know what activities or positions increase your pain. For example, laying down, eating, drinking coffee, etc.
- What Makes it Better: Have you found any ways to ease your pain? This includes OTC medication and physical conditions like standing or burping.