By LOUISE CARR, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
When it comes to common illnesses, practically nothing is more uncomfortable and inconvenient as the symptoms of stomach cramps with diarrhea. Stomach cramps are bursts of pain in the stomach or a dull ache, and when you have diarrhea your stools are loose and watery.
Stomach cramps and diarrhea are uncomfortable but are unlikely to be the sign of a serious health problem – unless accompanied by other symptoms. Read on to find out what to watch out for, and how to treat cramps and diarrhea the natural way.
Common Causes of Stomach Cramps with Diarrhea
If the stomach cramps and diarrhea have only recently begun, you are highly likely to be suffering from gastroenteritis – a stomach bug, caused either by a bacterial or a viral infection.
You can catch gastroenteritis by being in close contact with someone else with the condition, or by getting food poisoning by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) (2012) says that viral gastroenteritis is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in adults and children in the US.
If you get cramps and diarrhea on a regular recurring basis you may have a condition like irritable bowel syndrome.
Are Stomach Cramps and Diarrhea Serious?
In most cases stomach cramps and diarrhea will go away on their own in a couple of days and are not serious.
But if you suffer a sudden, severe pain in the stomach seek medical help immediately.
You may have appendicitis, stomach bleeding, kidney stones, or another condition affecting the intestines.
Call your doctor if you have blood in the diarrhea, it lasts longer than two days, you have a fever above 101F or you cannot replace the fluids you lose.
We looked at recent scientific research to find out what you can do about the problem of stomach cramps with diarrhea.
1. Treat Viral Gastroenteritis to Treat a Common Cause of Stomach Cramps with Diarrhea
Viral gastroenteritis is a stomach condition caused by different viruses and is spread through close contact or contaminated food and water.
The most common viruses that can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea include rotavirus and norovirus.
A 2003 study from the State Pediatric Medical Academy, St Petersberg, Russia showed that extract of tormentil root helped reduce the severity of rotavirus infection in children, and a 2004 study from the Taiko Pharmaceutical Company, Osaka, Japan found the extract was as effective as traditional diarrhea drugs in treating diarrhea in adults.
2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome Can Cause Stomach Cramps with Diarrhea
Irritable bowel syndrome ("IBS") is the term for chronic problems with the colon that occur in the absence of other identifiable medical causes.
The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include diarrhea and stomach cramps on a regular basis.
One natural remedy found to be useful for treating these symptoms of IBS is peppermint oil.
Studies like a 1997 study from Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taiwan show peppermint oil to be more effective than placebo at relieving these symptoms.
3. Prevent Traveller’s Diarrhea and Stomach Cramps with Probiotics
Traveler’s diarrhea can really spoil a vacation. Diarrhea and stomach cramps affect your enjoyment of your time abroad.
According to many studies, probiotics play a helpful role in treating these symptoms caused by infectious diarrhea, normally due to eating contaminated food.
A 1996 study from JM James and AW Burks found that 820 people traveling to Turkey were protected from significant intestinal infection by taking the probiotic Lactobacillus GG.
4. Apple and Chamomile for Stomach Cramps and Diarrhea
A 2006 study from the Medical Office for Pediatrics and Allergology, Bonn, Germany found that a product containing apple pectin and chamomile significantly improved the symptoms of diarrhea in children – the remedy could also be used to help treat stomach cramps, too.
5. Bacterial Gastroenteritis is a Prime Cause of Diarrhea and Stomach Cramps
Otherwise known as food poisoning, bacterial gastroenteritis is an infection that occurs after you are in contact with people of animals contaminated with bacteria.
In order to stop the diarrhea and recover more effectively, drink fluids throughout the day, eat some salty foods and eat little and often.
Potassium provides a useful boost. And a 1989 study from the Free University of Brussels, Belgium discovered that carob powder at a dose of 1g per kg per day effectively stopped the symptoms of diarrhea and cramps.
6. Allergy to Milk Can Cause Cramping and Diarrhea
An allergy to milk or certain other foods can be a trigger for an episode of diarrhea, says a 1996 report by JM James and AW Burks. This is due to lactose intolerance and the inability to digest the sugars present in milk. Using the enzyme lactase is thought to help the problems.
7. Treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease to Treat the Cramps and Diarrhea
Disease like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are grouped under the term inflammatory bowel conditions.
One of the most common symptoms of this collection of problems is chronic diarrhea. People with ulcerative colitis used a probiotic treatment made up of E.coli bacteria at a very low dose, which was as effective as a traditional diarrhea treatment for stopping the condition according to a 1999 study from The General Infirmary at Leeds, UK.