Heather van Mil


Stomach Aches Can Be Life-Changing: One Mom's Story

How to Get Out There and Start Playing Again

If Chronic Stomach Pain Is Holding You Back, You Need to Read This. | YMCHealth | YummyMummyClub.ca

If you're a mom who suffers from unrelenting stomach problems, I feel your pain (literally!) I’ve spent countless hours making lists of pharmacies, and locating public bathrooms on maps within walking distance of the various attractions for family events. Not your typical vacation planning list, but one that was vital for me to make it through a family trip. In situations when you're traveling or having fun with your family, spontaneity goes right out the window. Needless to say, my stomach problems had affected my entire family.

One day, I decided I had enough when my daughter asked me to join in a family outing and I just couldn’t. My pain was preventing me from taking part. When my little girl looked at me and said “it's ok mommy, one day you’ll be able to play with me,” my heart broke and I decided that there must be more I could do. I committed myself to finding out how to get back onto the playground I was ready to target the pain and its cause.

I was sent a study that surveyed Canadians who experienced stomach pain just like I do. That's when I realized this is a thing! I'm not the only one dealing with stress and anxiety because of my chronic stomach pain. It was eye-opening and gave me hope knowing I was far from alone in dealing with this.

Here are some more of the study's findings that may help you feel the same:

Some foods may be causing the pain

It was comforting to know that many of the home remedies I had tried, such as modifying my diet, had also been used by others with ongoing stomach pain. While I wasn’t exactly sure which foods triggered my bouts of pain, I had some ideas, and felt part of a community as I continued my research. In the study, participants said that consuming various foods may be tough on their tummies on a regular basis, especially when it was spicy and fried foods, gluten, dairy products, and even carbonated and alcoholic beverages. Modifying my diet did help occasionally, but not consistently, and I would still get attacks of pain and cramps for no reason I could put my finger on.

  How this may help you: Experiment. Cut out certain foods to see if that helps. If the cause of your discomfort is food related, this will help identify the trigger.

Many find relief through various methods and some of those methods may not be right

Of all the Canadians surveyed, 31 per cent choose an antacid (like Tums), 28 per cent choose heat (showers, baths, heating pad), 26 per cent choose home remedies (like tea),  and 25 per cent choose a pain killer (like Tylenol). 14 per cent do nothing to feel better and six per cent can’t find a treatment for their cramps. (This was once me, but not anymore!) Meditation is something worth trying as well.

I also learned that while 74 per cent experience stomach cramping and associated pain, they are self-treating with products that do not target the cramping muscles that may be causing the pain.

Interestingly, the study also found that many Canadians are using products not designed to help them feel better by targeting the specific cramping muscles.

  How this may help you: Again, experiment. Consult your doctor and try using some of the methods listed above. Personally, I took a wide variety of medications, antacids, and even pain killers with little relief. I did find that long baths in Epsom salts helped.

Many found relief after turning to medication

Still, if modifying my diet only helped occasionally and not being able to be in an Epsom salt bath 24/7, I needed to find something I could trust to relieve my pain on a regular basis. If you’re in the same position I was, you may find relief after using Buscopan. This is a treatment that relaxes those tight, cramping muscles in the stomach, intestines and bowels. It helps relieve abdominal cramps and the associated pain and gets you back where you should be playing with your kids. It’s available behind the counter without a prescription, so chat with your doctor or pharmacist.  

  How this may help you: Buscopan specifically targets stomach pain, so it's not like taking a general pain reliever for joint pain or a headache and hoping it will work for your stomach pain. If you experience stomach cramps, this may be the remedy you've been searching for.

This is the time of year families pack up and go camping, or take a trip together to experience other places and cultures. These are the days when we all want to enjoy the longer hours of sunlight and mild evenings playing with the kids until the sun goes down. Dig a little deeper. You’re not alone. Yes, it sucks, but there are things that can help get you out the door and enjoying family time again!