Dec. 9, 2012 -- Tummy trauma has an endless list of culprits: hangovers, spoiled food, and holiday overindulgences, to name a few. But it's possible to tame a temporarily disgruntled gut-fast-with the right course of action.
White-hot pain scorches through your torso during happy hour
You're Thinking, "Help! Something's wrong with my lungs."
But you likely have heartburn. Alcohol can weaken your esophageal sphincter and let caustic stomach acid creep into your upper GI tract. Certain postures can exacerbate heartburn, so stop slouching.
Stomach acid is tricky--you want to keep it in its place, not eradicate it. Beat the heat with sodium bicarbonate, a.k.a. baking soda. Mix half a teaspoon into four ounces of water and swallow (repeat in two hours, if needed).
You feel like you need a barf bag by the time you get to work.
You're Thinking, "OMG, do I have morning sickness?"
But relax, it could just be motion sickness. Yes, even a jostling train or car commute can scramble sensory input to your brain, leading to nausea or vomiting.
You could walk everywhere. Or you could stash some ginger (in any form) in your handbag. The herbal remedy has been used for centuries to quell roiled tummies.
Major below-the-belt rumblings hit you in the middle of a big night out.
You're Thinking, "But I ordered super-healthy food at dinner!"
But certain legumes and veggies (beans, broccoli) get an A+ in nutrition but can give your colon a fierce workout, the byproduct of which can be. . .gas. (Eating too quickly makes it worse.)
Try some enzymes. Better yet, pop one before digging into a new-to-you meal, just in case. Take small bites, avoid soda, and don't use a straw--it only ups the amount of air you swallow.
Sharp stomach cramps attack shortly before a big presentation.
You're Thinking, "I knew those pad thai leftovers were a bad lunch idea."
But any kind of anxiety can send distress signals to your gut's enteric nervous system, slowing down stomach digestion while causing intestines to contract. Ouch.
Put down the double espresso. Loads of stimulating caffeine can heighten cramps. Instead, sip plain water (or chamomile tea, a calming digestive aid) to aid a churning stomach and calm your bellyache.
You're miserable, clammy, and crampy -- and sprinting to the ladies' room every half-hour.
You're Thinking, "Influenza. Thanks for nothing, flu shot."
But it could be food poisoning. When you unwittingly swallow food that contains pathogens (ew, E. coli), your gut revolts with a slew of flu-like symptoms, including diarrhea, fever, headache, and chills.
There's no quick fix; you can only hydrate and wait it out. On the bright side, the ailment--which can show up within six hours of eating the bad food--runs its course much faster than the flu. You should feel better tomorrow.
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