Head to the bathroom
Pinpointing what’s behind a stomach ache can be hard, but pain in the lower abdominal area could be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome, says gastroenterologist, Dr Steven Fleisher. Waking up with some stomach pain in the morning is probably your digestive system trying to kick-start after a night of sleeping, but a trip to the bathroom should help. “The hallmark is that once you get to the bathroom and are able to have a bowel movement, typically the pain or discomfort is relieved as part of the process,” he says.
Call the doctor
Because stomach aches are such a vague symptom, calling a medical expert could help you figure out if you need to worry. (Or visit your doctor or head to the emergency department, especially if the pain is more severe.) Depending on factors like the location and sensation of your pain, a doctor can advise whether you should go to the ER, make an appointment with your primary care doc, or start with some at-home treatments, says Dr Jonathan Cohen. “There’s no downside to calling your general doctor and talking it over,” he says: “Doctors, by asking a few questions, can help make a better, smarter decision as to whether it’s an alarm.” Definitely call your doctor immediately if your pain is severe, basic remedies don’t help, you have bloody diarrhoea or vomit, or being sick is making you lightheaded, Dr Fleisher says.
Ask if your dining partners are on the same boat
Fear food poisoning? If you ate at a restaurant, you might hear on the news that others got sick too. Check-in with your family or anyone else you ate dinner with to see if they’re feeling symptoms like stomach pain in the morning the next day. “Often, more than one person will be afflicted,” says Dr Fleisher.