Epigastrium is medically described as central part of the abdomen and is found between the lower portion of the thorax and sub coastal plane. Epigastric pain is felt due to infection or any other diseases on epigastrium. Pain occurs suddenly and sharply in the abdominal region. It might cause continuous pain when this portion becomes defective. This pain can cause compulsive breath exhalation by the affected person. Ulcer or pancreatitis can cause epigastric pain commonly. This pain can be managed by taking proper medication based on the cause of pain. As such epigastric pain is not a disease and is a warning signal of underlying medical condition.
Epigastric Pain Causes :
Though there are number of causes that produce epigastric pain still some of the common causes are discussed below. It can occur due to indigestion in elderly people and due to infection in healthy adults. Esophagus disease can cause sudden epigastric pain. The patient will feel like vomiting along with heartburn or discomfort in the chest region. It can also cause sore throat and change in voice if the throat region develops inflammation.
Gastric ulcer or peptic ulcer is a chronic problem that can irritate the soft lining of the duodenum. Any problem in the gall bladder can cause pain in the duodenum area. Inflammation of pancreas (pancreatitis) can cause epigastric pain. In addition chronic heart problems or cardiac diseases can affect the esophageal region causing pain on the epigastrium. Infections like cystitis (urinary bladder infection) and urethritis can cause abdominal pain. Inflammatory disease on the pelvic region, proteus mirabilis bacterial infection and diverticulitis (inflammation of diverticulum) can also cause epigastric pain. In some people exact cause of epigastric pain is unknown which is called as idiopathic epigastric pain.
Epigastrium is the region found on the stomach and hence epigastric pain causes mild to severe abdominal pain, bloated feeling, vomiting/nausea and constipation. Symptoms vary in accordance with the causative factor. If epigastric pain occurs due to pelvic floor infection it can cause fever, vaginal bleeding and intense pain during intercourse.
Range of tests is available for detecting the underlying cause of epigastric pain. Endoscopy is the best way to analyze the inner areas of abdomen and intestine. Esophageal cancer and dysplasia can be evaluated by endoscopic procedure. For healthy adults below 45 years endoscopy is the ideal method for detecting epigastric pain. Biopsy of the tissue sample can also be taken during endoscopy to detect tumors or ulcers.
Imaging tests like X-ray will be done for diagnosing problems in liver, kidney and urinary bladder. In addition your doctor may request for blood test, urine analysis, and ultrasound scan to check the functionalities of internal organs. Cardiac test will be done if epigastric pain originates from heart problems.
Epigastric Pain Treatment :
The method of treatment varies from one person to the other depending on the root cause of epigastric pain. In case of severe pain the treatment would be complicated and extended for long time. Pain killers like Ibuprofen or other drugs of NSAID’s can be taken for managing pain and fever. Prescription drugs include cimetidine (given for symptoms of peptic ulcer) and antacids (given for managing stomach acidity and heartburn).
Histamines H2 receptor agents like ranitidine is given to control stomach acidity and also for peptic ulcer. With right doses of medications, mild to moderate epigastric pain can be easily managed. Only in severe complications like chest pain, fever, breathlessness and choking, you need to seek immediate medical advice. For patients with H pylori infection H2 blocking agents are given.
Lifestyle Changes :
You can easily manage mild epigastric pain by making small changes in your life. Take frequent small meals several times a day to help easy digestion. Avoid taking spicy and hot foods and include only limited portion of oily foods. Do not skip breakfast which can increase stomach acidity. You are not going to lose any pounds by skipping breakfast.
Instead you can always plan the calories consumed daily to fit your weight regimen. Try to manage stressful events and control your emotions since it can affect your stomach and intestine causing intense pain. Be relaxed and practice yoga or meditation each day. Manage your weight by doing aerobic exercises.