Stomach pain or an upset stomach is a general symptom that can have many causes.
A stomachache can be caused by many things, most of them not serious. However, if you have serious recurring pain or other symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea, contact your doctor.
For less severe symptoms, there are a number of ways you can relieve your stomach pain in the comfort of your own home. You may already have some items on hand that can help relieve a stomachache, nausea, or stomach cramps.
Take a look at some common ways for seniors to relieve stomach pain.
10 Things Seniors Can Do for Stomach Pain
When it comes to soothing your stomach the natural way, peppermint is at the top of the list. Mint may help your rumbling tummy calm itself, and it has no adverse side effects.
You can use peppermint in several ways, like relying on fresh peppermint to brew tea or buy pre-made peppermint tea bags from the store. It’s always good to have these on hand, as a cup of hot peppermint tea is great for indigestion or simply those days when your stomach doesn’t feel right.
Chewing the leaves themselves is also quite safe. You can purchase a bottle of peppermint extract or essential oil and take a sniff when your gut feels weird.
If you don’t have any tea or peppermint leaves on hand, suck on an old-fashioned peppermint candy.
The taste of peppermint can be very soothing, and this has long been known as a way to treat an upset stomach without using medications because of the healing properties of menthol.
2. Try the BRAT diet
When you’ve actually gotten sick to your stomach or you’re too nauseated to eat, it’s best to not skip eating altogether – just substitute what you’d usually eat with a blander diet.
Doctors recommend the BRAT diet when you’re feeling under the weather. This consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and (dry) toast.
This specific combination of foods packs a powerful punch when it comes to fiber, which helps alleviate symptoms like diarrhea. The foods aren’t spicy, greasy, or rich, which means that they shouldn’t overwhelm a sick stomach.
Just because you’re feeling sick you may be tempted to skip meals, but it’s best to put something in your stomach, even if it’s just a day or two of BRAT foods until you feel better, at least you’re still eating.
Most importantly, don’t forget to stay hydrated, even if that means you’re just sipping peppermint tea or water, and try to avoid anything with salt.
3. Turn on a heating pad
If you’re having actual stomach cramps, you’re probably having some discomfort. Using something warm on your belly can give you comfort and reduce mild cramping.
You can use a number of different ways to get some heat to your abdomen, whether it’s a heating pad, an electric blanket, or a hot water bottle, whichever you have on hand that will help you the most.
A warm bath is also a healing option.
Use heat in small doses and at low temperatures so you don’t burn yourself. Make sure you monitor how long you’ve kept your heating pad on, or ensure you use a timed heating pad that will turn itself off after a set amount of time.
Heat can relieve tight, cramped up muscles and allow them to relax, which can in turn help alleviate pain, especially when combined with other therapies such as sipping peppermint or ginger tea.
4. Use ginger
Ginger may be natural, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s not a pain reducing powerhouse. Ginger is also versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes and needs when it comes to natural medicine.
Ginger is great for an upset stomach. You can drink ginger tea, ginger ale, or take ginger in the form of a supplement. You can purchase ginger supplements as chewables or as pills.
Some seniors use ginger as a daily part of their diets. This is because it can also be used as an anti-inflammatory and help reduce all types of pain, and since it’s safe to take and has few (if any) side effects, it’s not a bad herb to add to your arsenal.
If you choose to sip ginger ale, the bubbles from the carbonation can also help you feel like you’re settling your stomach, plus, it’s just tasty.
5. Cut the caffeine
Did you know that caffeine can be an irritant to your stomach? If you find yourself having daily stomach pain after you drink your morning cup, you may try an experiment and skip your coffee tomorrow morning.
Nobody wants to live without their coffee, but you’d be surprised how quickly you can adapt without it, and tea makes a great substitute that’s better on the belly.
You may still be able to have caffeine in other forms, but some people find that caffeine in general can be distressing to digestion. It’s worth a try for a few days just to see if you’re one of those who can feel relief just from skipping coffee.
There are plenty of ways to get a jump start in the morning – tea, fruit, or heading outside for a brisk morning walk are just a few.
If you don’t feel any different after skipping coffee for a bit, then maybe it’s not what’s irritating your stomach. It can be a game of trial and error to zero in on a specific cause of chronic pain.
6. Add chamomile
Again, going natural can help tame your tummy. Adding chamomile to your diet can only help, and you may find that this herb has a number of helpful uses.
Chamomile is mild and tasty, and it’s great for soothing a stomachache or if you’ve had a bout of nausea or diarrhea and need to stay hydrated. It doesn’t have a strong smell or flavor, and it’s very pleasant.
It’s also good for bedtime and can calm you and relax you naturally. You can buy chamomile tea bags at the grocery store for an easy chamomile fix.
Since chamomile is known for its relaxing properties, think of the tea “relaxing” your stomach muscles when they’re cramped. This can help prevent and reduce stomach spasms that cause painful cramps when you don’t feel well.
Chamomile, like ginger, is also a natural anti-inflammatory. Add it to your nighttime routine to sleep sweetly.
7. Take medications
If you don’t have natural remedies on hand, there are plenty of over-the-counter methods designed to give you some relief for tummy troubles.
Some of these include medications targeted at indigestion, such as antacids like Pepcid AC, or medicines that help reduce painful gas, like Gas-X or Zantac.
There are also special medications you can take for diarrhea, like Imodium, or constipation, such as Metamucil, as well as regular pain relievers such as Tylenol for painful stomach cramps. Motrin isn’t recommended for stomach pain, as ibuprofen can actually be irritating on the stomach.
Pepto-Bismol has been around for decades and is a pink medicine that “coats” your stomach and can give you some relief if you’re having a bad day with your stomach or you know you have indigestion and/or heartburn.
No matter what medicine you decide to take, make sure you drink plenty of water so you stay hydrated.
8. Avoid stress
You may not know this or haven’t made the connection in your own life, but things like stress, anxiety, and depression can manifest themselves physically and cause you actual pain in various areas, including your stomach and head.
If you find yourself having stomach pain on days that you’re upset about something or you’re feeling particularly stressed out, your anxiety could be what’s causing you pain.
If you’re feeling stressed and your stomach hurts, you may not feel like eating. In this situation, you need to relax as much as possible. Put your feet up and grab a cup of tea. Watch a favorite movie or call a friend and chat.
Do something that will lower your heart rate and give yourself some stress-free time.
You may find that removing yourself from a stressful situation or distracting yourself from an anxiety attack or negative thoughts can help alleviate your actual physical pain.
9. Keep a food diary
You may find that you only have stomach flare-ups after certain foods. Maybe after you eat something spicy or greasy, or maybe when you’ve had foods with too much dairy involved.
You could be having a sensitivity or even allergic reaction to a food and may not know it. Did you know we can develop allergies at any time in our lives?
Start keeping track of what you eat. After a few weeks, you may begin to see patterns emerge. You may notice that the days you drink alcohol you tend to have a stomachache, or on pizza nights.
Once you figure out what’s causing your pain, you can eliminate those foods from your diet or decide to only eat or drink them once in a while.
If there are foods actually making you sick, you are probably allergic to them and should stop eating them altogether to avoid a painful reaction.
10. Call the doctor
If you keep having chronic pain that gets worse or doesn’t go away, it’s time to call your doctor. Severe pain could be appendicitis, so you shouldn’t put off seeing a doctor if your pain is so bad that you’re doubled over.
If you’re vomiting profusely, have fever, or can’t keep foods down at all, contact your doc so you can get to the root of your problem.
If it’s not an emergency but you are finding yourself with an achy abdomen more than usual, you may want to get a referral to an allergist.
An allergist is a specialist who can test you for all types of foods, including nuts, dairy, and vegetables to see if you have any special allergies. If you’ve kept a food diary and still haven’t found any links, an allergist can narrow things down quickly.
Then, you can take the right precautions. You can be allergic to just about anything, from nuts to strawberries to pork!