Many aches and pains feel worse at night, and stomach pain is no exception. Your discomfort or pain may be caused by something you ate, resulting in digestive nighttime pain, or could even be a symptom of a serious underlying medical condition. Depending on the location and whether other symptoms accompany the pain, you may be able to treat it yourself. We will look at various causes of stomach pain at night and what you can do for relief.
When we complain about stomach pain, we’re usually referring to an area in our upper abdominal region that tends to be concentrated on one side or another. As the stomach contains several organs and the digestive tract, it is important to pinpoint the location in order to know how to treat it.
We may recall the last food we consumed before the onset of the pain. From there, we can move on to the position we take in bed as many of our organs are more active at night due to our circadian rhythm cycle, otherwise known as our 24-hour internal clock.
10 Causes of Stomach Pain at Night
Stomach pain at night can be a symptom of a mild or serious health condition that seems to worsen when we lie down. It may also be associated with our digestive tract and its response to food consumed in the evening. Whether it is a stomach ache that becomes more uncomfortable as the evening wears on or a sudden pain that awakens us during a sound sleep, let’s look at some possible causes.
1. Food Poisoning
When stomach pain hits at night, our first thought is the last meal we had. Bacteria, viruses, or parasites contaminating our food can all cause poisoning.
This can occur during the preparation, handling, or cooking processes of a meal.
We may experience excruciating stomach pain along with diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea within a few hours of eating a meal.
Gas pains in the stomach, like the sensation of food poisoning, can keep you up all night with a sharp, stabbing pain radiating throughout the abdominal cavity. Consuming food too quickly or eating high-fiber or spicy foods can leave you gassy. It can also be the result of drinking with a straw or smoking—any activity where excessive air can enter the body. We can also swallow too much air when anxiety sets in or we are under extreme emotional stress. This is where stomach pain at night can develop once we are in bed and begin to agonize over life issues. Gas pains can also stem from the onset of constipation.
3. Stomach Ulcer
Also known as a peptic ulcer, a stomach ulcer presents severe pains, often at night. This burning sensation can be linked to the presence of excess stomach acid. A full tummy may also cause pain. These open wounds in the stomach lining can be stimulated with or without food and are usually accompanied by vomiting, indigestion, nausea, and belching.
4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS
For some patients with IBS, the severe stomach pain can be worse at night with activities and food that trigger the symptoms of the upper gastrointestinal tract. With the stomach pain at night, you may also experience gas, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and headaches.
One of the causes of nighttime stomach pain could be gallstones. These severe pain attacks usually are caused by stones blocking the gallbladder duct. It is common to experience this after a high-fat meal. Pain generally occurs in the right upper abdomen before radiating to the shoulder region. You may also have symptoms of fever, vomiting, nausea, and jaundice.
6. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
A symptom of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a bacterial infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries; is pain low in the abdomen and pelvis. You may experience stomach pain at night in addition to painful intercourse, unusual vaginal discharge, or irregular menstrual bleeding.
7. Kidney Stones
Another night attack can be a result of kidney stones with the pain starting in the back region and circulating to the stomach. These stones cause a change in the intensity and location of the pain as they move through the urinary tract. Stones can also cause blood to appear in your urine output.
8. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD, also known as acid reflux, is commonly associated with after meal activities such as exercising or laying down to rest. Excessive eating and alcohol may also trigger the condition. Stomach pain after eating at night can also occur after late-night snacks. When your lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t fully close after swallowing, stomach acid can enter your esophagus. In addition to stomach pain, you may experience symptoms of heartburn, nausea, sore throat, regurgitation, or a bloating sensation in the chest.
9. Viral Gastroenteritis
Known commonly as the stomach flu, this condition can result in severe stomach pain accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fever, and diarrhea. This contagious health concern is often spread by contact with an infected person as well as through contaminated food and water.
10. Urinary Tract Infection
Stomach pain at night that is low in the abdomen may be the sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI), especially when accompanied by painful urination. UTIs are caused by a buildup of bacteria in the ureter, bladder, or kidneys and are more common in women than men.
How to Relieve Stomach Pain at Night
Treatment for your stomach pain at night will depend on the cause. If the source of your nighttime stomach pain is relatively mild gas or indigestion, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs may be effective. You should seek medical attention if you’re experiencing stomach pains more than once a week or suspect that your stomach pain at night is due to a serious health condition.
The following at-home home remedies and lifestyle changes may provide you with much-needed relief.
1. Club Soda
The carbonation in the soda may help release suppressed gas in your stomach. Add a lime, or lime juice, to your drink to soothe an upset stomach.
You can relax the constricting stomach muscles with the ginger components of gingerols and shogaols. Enjoy a tea of one to two-inch length of a ginger root with an optional addition of honey.
The anti-inflammatory properties of chamomile may soothe aches and pains in the stomach. The lining of the stomach can become inflamed especially in the case of bacterial infections. Use one to two teaspoons of dried chamomile with hot water to make the tea.
4. Lemon Water
The acid of lemon aids in the production of hydrochloric acid in our stomach to promote healthy digestion of our food. Stomach pain caused by indigestion may be treated with a drink of fresh lemon juice and warm water.
A drink of peppermint tea may treat mild tummy aches and pains with indigestion and gas. Combine hot water with one to two teaspoons of dried peppermint leaves or fresh leaves.
6. Lifestyle Changes
The dietary fiber content of fresh fruits and vegetables may help relieve digestive nighttime pain, so make sure you’re getting in at least five servings per day. Fiber is known to keep your digestive system running smoothly. It can bulk up stools, making it easier for them pass through the intestines. This makes it beneficial to those suffering from pains due to constipation or diarrhea.
For troublesome aches and pains while at rest, use a hot water bottle or a heated towel to relieve discomfort and aid in bowel movement for constipation issues.
Stomach pain at night can be give you nightmares, sending you into what feels like a time warp of pain and discomfort. You can begin to treat it when you determine the cause of the pain by relating the location to the symptoms. Some causes are mild health concerns, while others may require medical attention. Thankfully, there are home remedies for the mild cases that may ensure a better night’s sleep
- Stomach Feels Tight? 10 Causes and Remedies Explained
- Too Much Acid in Stomach: 8 Causes and Treatments
- What’s Behind Your Stomach Growling?
- What Causes Excessive Gas in the Stomach?
Holland, K., “What’s Causing My Stomach Pain at Night?” Healthline; http://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/stomach-pain-at-night#Overview1, last accessed February 28, 2017.
Dr. Chris, “Stomach Pain at Night (Digestive Nighttime Pain) Adults, Children,” Healthhype; http://www.healthhype.com/stomach-pain-at-night-digestive-nighttime-pain-adults-children.html, last accessed February 28, 2017.
“Abdominal Pain,” Patient; http://patient.info/health/abdominal-pain-leaflet, last accessed February 28, 2017.
“8 Home Remedies for Stomach Ache & Cramps,” Everyday Roots; http://everydayroots.com/stomach-ache-remedies, last accessed February 28, 2017.