Treating Lupus Stomach Pain
Lupus can attack any body system, and the gastrointestinal tract is no different. Your tummy troubles may very well be a side-effect of lupus.
The Lupus Foundation of America explains how lupus can affect the GI system as well as surrounding organs such as the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. Many of the issues you are experiencing may be the result of medications or additional disorders.
However, when tummy troubles arise, the underlying reason may be the furthest thing from your mind — at least that is true in my case. Sure, I want to know what’s causing the problem, but I’m more interested in finding some relief!
I have found that my tummy troubles can last for days. It’s uncomfortable and annoying.
What causes it? Is there anything I can do to avoid it? How can I find relief? These are probably questions that have gone through your mind as well.
I’d like to shed some light from my experience, offer some potential answers, and hopefully help settle the stomach woes so many are faced with each day.
What Causes Tummy Troubles?
As with other lupus issues, many of the problems stem from inflammation in the body. I often have trouble swallowing or experience the dreaded acid reflux condition due to inflammation in the esophagus.
On more than one occasion I have felt the uncomfortable sensation of food getting ‘stuck’ in my throat. It’s unappetizing to say the least and usually results in vomiting anything I managed to take in.
Undoubtedly, my appetite ceases and any attempt to continue eating is generally unsuccessful. I have gone days without being able to ingest a full meal. This in itself can cause problems as proper nutrition is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
I have found that some food items cause the problem more than others — breads, pastas, chicken, asparagus, and even lettuce. I avoid certain foods I know are difficult to get down as much as possible, but when I do indulge, I take small bites and chew slowly and completely which has proven to help. Sure, I may be the last one eating at the dinner table, but it’s well worth it if I can avoid the vomiting routine!
The burning sensation and often distastefulness of acid reflux is a common problem for many people. Inflammation in the esophagus or stomach can cause this backward flow, which if persistent, can lead to GERD.
Although antacids can be used and omeprazole is often prescribed (or purchased OTC), I like to avoid as many medications as I can in my daily regimen. I keep these on hand, but have found some natural remedies that work for me — either to tame the beast or prevent it from rearing its ugly head.
Finding Lupus Stomach Pain Relief
- Milk: When I initially feel the burn, I often drink a glass of milk to put out the fire. Milk is rich in calcium, which has shown to be effective and is often an ingredient in antacids. Although milk can temporarily buffer stomach acid, the fat content can actually stimulate the production of it, so sticking to low-fat or non-fat varieties is generally best.
- Aloe: If you have ever used aloe on a sunburn then you know it has burn easing properties. The same is true for heartburn! Aloe vera juice can reduce inflammation in the esophagus and stomach — but be careful, some varieties also contain laxative properties and you might find yourself trading one problem for another. Look for a brand that has the laxative component removed if this is a worry for you.
- Ginger: An age-old remedy for all kinds of tummy troubles, ginger is an anti-inflammatory. Steep in hot water to make tea or use it as an ingredient when cooking. If all else fails, you can even chew on a bit of ginger root to get in your daily dose. But be careful, too much ginger can actually cause heartburn. Limit your daily intake to about 3 grams.
- Banana: Bananas are believed to be natural antacids that can stop acid reflux from flaming. They neutralize acid in the stomach because they are rich in potassium, which is an alkalizing mineral. However, be sure the bananas are nice and ripe! For an even better effect, put sliced bananas on top of low-fat, high-fiber oatmeal which has stomach soothing properties.
- Apple: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” How true it is. Apples work to reduce reflux because they create an alkaline state in the stomach, neutralizing excess acids and aiding in digestion. Stick with sweet varieties such as red or golden delicious and avoid the tart varieties such as granny smith. In baked goods, applesauce can be used as a substitute for oil, which is a common heartburn trigger.
- Gum: Believe it or not, chewing gum after a meal can actually prevent acid reflux. Choose one that is sugar-free and chew for about 30 minutes. This stimulates the salivary glands, and increases the flow of saliva. Any acid that has built up in the stomach is diluted and washed away or cleared out more quickly, preventing symptoms from occurring.
If you know acid reflux is a problem for you, try to avoid common triggers such as caffeinated drinks (soda, tea, coffee), acidic foods (citrus, tomatoes), spicy foods (black pepper, garlic, onions), high-fat greasy foods (they stay in the stomach longer), alcohol (red wine), chocolate, and peppermint.