Learn About Stomach Pain and Nausea

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Stomach Discomfort and Nausea — When Is It a Sign Of Something Serious?

written by: Norene A • edited by: BStone • updated: 5/28/2011

Many conditions and illnesses have similar symptoms, such as stomach pain and nausea. Some are mild and short-lived, while others may indicate the presence of a serious condition. Read on to learn about some of the serious conditions with these symptoms.

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    Peptic Ulcers

    A peptic ulcer can be caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacterium, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or, rarely, tumors in the stomach. While eating spicy foods or living with a lot of stress may make the symptoms of pain in the stomach area and nausea worse, neither is a cause of peptic ulcers, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

    Diagnostic testing to confirm the presence of a peptic ulcer may include an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) in which a doctor will insert a thin tube with a tiny camera on the tip through your mouth and into your stomach. A biopsy from the wall of your stomach may be taken to verify the presence of bacteria.

    Treatment for a peptic ulcer includes antibiotics and acid blockers. If left untreated, a peptic ulcer can cause internal bleeding, which can result in anemia or severe blood loss that requires a blood transfusion. Peptic ulcers can destroy the stomach lining and get into the abdominal cavity causing a serious infection.

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    Gallstones

    Gallstones are the result of solidified bile, which consists of fats, proteins, salts, cholesterol and bilirubin that form in the gallbladder. In many people, these stones, which can be as tiny as a grain of sand to the size of a golf ball, cause no symptoms. Symptoms such as intensifying pain in the stomach area and nausea can indicate the blockage of the bile duct, causing bile duct infection and jaundice. Diagnostic testing to confirm the presence of gallstones includes an ultrasound or a HIDA scan, which is a scan of the gallbladder after an injection of a radioactive dye.

    Other potentially serious complications of gallstones include inflammation of the gallbladder and blockage of the pancreatic duct which can cause inflammation of the pancreas, or pancreatitis. The Mayo Clinic reports that a history of gallstones increases the risk of gallbladder cancer.

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    Strep Throat

    Strep throat, caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria, is a common bacterial throat infection in children between the ages of 5 and 15, according to MedlinePlus. Symptoms of strep throat include fever, stomachache, nausea, sore throat and difficulty swallowing. Since a sore throat can be caused by a virus, your doctor can do a swab test to determine if strep is present.

    Antibiotics are given to treat strep throat to reduce the chances of developing rheumatic fever, kidney complications, scarlet fever, ear infection and sinusitis.

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    Heart Attack

    Heart attack symptoms can vary from one person to the next and depend on the type and extent of the attack. Stomach pain, most often described as heartburn, may extend into the abdominal area. Other symptoms that can indicate a heart attack include nausea, feeling lightheaded, chest discomfort or upper body pain across the shoulders, neck and into the jaw.

    MayoClinic.com reports that women are more likely to experience nausea, stomach pain, shortness of breath and upper body discomfort without chest pain. Any suspicion of heart attack symptoms is a medical emergency.

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    References

    National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Peptic Ulcer Symptoms http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hpylori/

    MayoClinic: Gallstone Complications http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gallstones/DS00165/DSECTION=complications

    MedlinePlus: Strep Throat and Children http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000639.htm

    MayoClinic: Women and Heart Attacks http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heart-attack-symptoms/HB00054

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