Abdominal pain is the type of pain that surfaces between your chest and pelvic region, and it can be either an acute or chronic condition. Abdominal pain can be exceedingly hurtful and can happen due to several reasons. But mainly speaking, lower abdominal pain can be directly associated with gastrointestinal diseases. Why? Because our lower abdomen covers most of the large and small intestines. So, if a dull or achy pain is specifically occurring in that area, it can be directly ascribed to digestive disorders, mainly GERD.
Symptoms Of Lower Abdominal Pain
Lower abdominal pain, as suggested by its name, occurs in our lower abdomen, and it can cause the following discomforting symptoms.
- Unintentional weight loss
- Abdominal swelling
- Difficulty in bowel movement
- Fever and mild fatigue
- Bloody or tarry stools
Apprehending Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Our bodies are a tangled web of vital organs and muscles. Each plays an essential part in our daily activities and general well-being. This means that even a brief malfunction can cause a domino effect and cause severe consequences and through.
This happens when our lower esophageal sphincter gets disordered and starts functioning poorly. LES is a ring of muscle connecting our lower esophagus and stomach. It is only supposed to open and close so that food can enter our gut, but in this case, it relaxes at the wrong times, allowing stomach acids and undigested stomach contents to reflux back into the digestive tract. The acid reflux then generates a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), one of GERD’s most common symptoms.
Chronic acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease medically.
Symptoms of GERD
Gerd symptoms can vary in pain and intensity depending on the severity and duration of your condition. Look at the list below; if you are experiencing the following symptoms frequently, you are at risk of developing GERD.
- Experiencing chest pain unusually often.
- Noticeable discomfort after eating large meals
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sore throat and hoarseness of voice
- A bitter taste in your mouth and bad breath
- The sensation of a lump in your throat
Medical attention should be sought out immediately if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Read also: Are Acid Reflux And Hemorrhoids Related?
How Does GERD Cause Lower Abdominal Pain?
To answer your question, “yes,” GERD can and does cause lower abdominal pain. It is a gastrointestinal disease directly connected to your digestive system. The lower abdomen is located in that part of our bodies where GERD symptoms actively affect.
Keep reading to find out “HOW” GERD causes lower abdominal pain.
Gerd’s trigger food substances create an aching pain in your stomach. Their properties make it difficult for your GERD-infected system to digest them properly. For instance, spicy food contains a chemical known as capsaicin that irritates your digestive tract and the walls of your stomach. Fatty foods, however, are greasy and prolong the digestion process. Their inability to pass through our system quickly causes symptoms such as bloating, nausea, and abdominal pain.
As mentioned above, Sore throat is considered one of the most common acid reflux symptoms. Understandably so, a sore throat will increase the urge to swallow frequently. Other than that, acid reflux also causes a dry mouth and creates the sensation of a lump in your throat.
All these factors encourage persistent swallowing, which can be harmful. It will cause more air to enter your system, and the uncomfortable feeling of being bloated or belched will surface. The bloating can be achy and hurtful, mainly affecting your lower abdomen.
Tip: eating ½ spoonful of baking soda can reduce this immediately.
Gerd’s Domino Effect
This theory between GERD and lower abdominal pain connection suggests the occurrence of a domino effect in our bodies. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is often correlated with Crohn’s disease and celiac disease. Both Crohn’s and Celiac diseases are immune system abnormalities, and over 30% of people living with celiac disease have also reported experiencing GERD symptoms.
To put it simply, acid reflux and other peptic diseases cause gluten exposure in our bodies which instantly worsens the celiac disease. When celiac disease gets triggered by GERD, it causes symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, and lower abdominal pain.
Acid reflux = worsening of celiac disease = lower abdominal pain.
As for Crohn’s disease, 63.9% of its patients have reported frequent heartburn symptoms. Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and much like GERD, it also causes the digestive tract to get inflamed. So, if you are already suffering from this inflammatory disease and then you develop GERD, the effects will double up, and symptoms such as lower abdominal pain and malnutrition will worsen.
How To Treat Lower Abdominal Pain Caused By GERD?
Problems such as lower abdominal pain occur not as a disease but as a symptom. So, the best way to solve them is to treat the root cause itself. Once it is professionally diagnosed that your lower abdominal pain results from GERD and not some other underlying problem, proper treatment can be decided; treating GERD itself will relieve you of lower abdominal pain.
- Dietary modifications
Some significant dietary changes need to be made to prevent symptoms of GERD. Trigger foods should be restricted at all costs, including spicy foods, fatty foods, dairy products, citrus fruits, and acidic foods.
Moreover, as discussed above, eating a large portion of meals may cause severe discomfort, especially at night. So make sure to eat smaller meals and avoid lying down for 45-60 minutes afterward.
Lastly, lifestyle modifications like regular exercise and reduction in weight should also be made because obesity is a considerable risk factor in GERD development, and losing excess weight will reduce the pressure on the lower abdomen.
- Counter medications
Medicines effectively prevent GERD symptoms and relieve pain, so your doctor might recommend acid blockers. The most common ones may include proton pump inhibitors (PPI). They solve the problem from their roots and directly reduce acid production in our bodies.
Lower the acids, lower the reflux symptom. Also, h2 blockers like Zantac and Axid can be used. Zantac is specifically known to help with lower abdominal pain as well.
- Surgical procedures
Precautions and medicines may temporarily help you with GERD symptoms and lower abdominal pain, but surgery is the only permanent solution to GERD.
If your symptoms only seem to worsen with the passing of time and your daily life has become excruciating, several pursuable and safe medical procedures can be performed.
The one with the highest success rates is Nissen fundoplication, where the surgeon will tie your stomach and lower esophagus together, and that will reduce the chance of acid reflux to a great extent.
Other than that, inserting a Linx device in your stomach or a gastric bypass to remove the pyloric valve can also be done. The bypass will decrease the pressure on your stomach and lower abdomen, permanently relieving you of lower abdominal pain. Studies have shown that over 94% of people have reported reduced GERD symptoms after undergoing a gastric bypass.
Other Reasons Behind Lower Abdominal Pain
Now that you know how GERD can cause lower abdominal and, more importantly, how you can treat it. It is not compulsory that lower abdominal pain can only be because of GERD, Other diseases can cause it too, and in that scenario, treatments can be different. Only your healthcare provider can guide you with appropriate treatment.
Other common diseases may include
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Menstrual cramps
- Lactose intolerance
- Hiatal hernia
- Peptic ulcers
Can GERD Cause Lower Abdominal Pain Summary
Now that you know how GERD contributes to lower abdominal pain, it is crucial to understand that this type of pain should not be neglected, especially if the cause is undetermined, because it can be a symptom of a much more severe problem. Several treatment options can be pursued, and your doctor can guide you after diagnosing the underlying condition.
Gerd can cause lower abdominal pain, rather than living in misery and avoiding this main symptom. You can treat it definitively. Lower abdominal pain may seem mild at first. Still, the symptoms will only worsen over time, and you will be at risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus or even esophageal cancer.
Did you find this article helpful? Can you finally understand how GERD causes lower abdominal pain and how you can solve it? Share it with your friends who might be facing a similar problem.