Why is My Stomach Hard?

  • There are different causes of having a hard stomach.
  • These causes can range from simple constipation to more serious digestive tract diseases.
  • Some home treatments are available for treating these conditions, while some may need to be seen by a physician.

There are times that you might feel that your stomach is hard and swollen. While a hardened stomach due to food intake is common, there are other causes of stomach hardening that are more serious and need medical attention.

Let us take a look at some of these different causes and their treatment. 

Constipation

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Constipation happens when bowel movements become irregular, and passing stools becomes uncomfortable. It can be caused by changes in the diet or routine and lack of fiber and water intake. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD) lists constipation among the most common digestive complaints affecting 16% of Americans.

Constipation symptoms include bloating, irregular bowel movements, having dry, hard, and lumpy stools, difficulty when passing stools, and having a feeling of not completely passing all stools.

Constipation can be treated with home remedies. The NIDDKD recommends engaging in more physical activities, increasing water, and fiber intake to avoid getting constipated. It is also useful to have a regular time for passing stools to train your body regularly. Doctors can also prescribe laxatives, stool-softening medications, or surgery if the condition is more severe.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

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Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition when the digestive tract gets inflamed. It is due to the immune system’s reaction to the microflora in the gut. IBD is also the term used for either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease is characterized by ulcers in the colon, terminal ileum, and gastrointestinal gut. Ulcerative colitis is the inflammation of the colon and rectum’s inner lining.

The following are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation:

  • Abscesses
  • Anemia
  • Bloody stools
  • Cramps and pain in the stomach
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Fistula
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss

Ulcerative colitis presents the same symptoms except for abscesses, dehydration, and a fistula.

Treatment for both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis includes medications like aminosalicylates (mesalamine) in suppositories or pills, corticosteroids for reducing inflammation, and anti-tumor necrosis factor drugs for severe cases. If medicines are not enough, patients may undergo a colectomy to remove their colons.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may be caused by distress, motility, and brain and gut interaction. It has three types, namely the IB-C, IB-D, and IB-M. People with IB-C experience constipation, those with IB-D suffer from diarrhea, and the IB-M type makes patients have mixed bowel patterns.

Those with IBS usually suffer from bloating, constipation, diarrhea, discomfort or pain in the stomach, and a change in frequency of passing stools.

IBS sufferers may take fiber supplements, laxatives, probiotics, tricyclic antidepressants, and serotonin inhibitors to alleviate their symptoms.

Gastric Cancer

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Gastric cancer mainly affects the innermost layer of the stomach.

The gastric cancer symptoms resemble other gastric conditions and can also include bloody stool, jaundice, unintended weight loss, and stomach fluid build-up.

Treatment for gastric cancer includes:

  • Surgery – a procedure to remove the cancerous stomach part
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection – non-surgical removal of the affected part
  • Chemotherapy- drugs are used to stop cancer growth
  • Radiation therapy – radiation is used to kill cancer cells
  • Target therapy-specific cancer cells are targeted
  • Immunotherapy – the immune system is enhanced to be able to fight cancer

Source: Medical News Today


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