my stomach hurts like its never hurt before!
February 17, 2008 3:43 PM   Subscribe

i had a spicy meal last night and this morning woke up in so much pain that i couldn't sit or lie down. is this supposed to happen?

please excuse any typos, as i have taken two panadols and a codeine forte already.

last night i was at a thai restaurant and ordered the spicy lamb, which although i had ordered mild, was still a bit spicy for me. usually with these kinds of asian dishes the custom is to share them and eat a bit of each, but being with a caucasian family, i was stuck with my entire plate of spicy lamb.

this morning i woke up with terrible muscle cramps in my abdominals, (not to be confused with period pain) and couldn't get back to sleep again. there was no diarrhea or wind, just constant cramping that wouldn't quit. i couldn't sit or lie down or curl up in a ball because my stomach would just cramp up even more, so i got sick of pacing the room and stretching in the hope that it would go away. took two panadols, which had no effect after half an hour, so went to the cupboard in search of pescription medicine which had been given when i had several teeth pulled out. thankfully that has worked so i can even sit here for more than a minute to type this out.

so the theory is that the spicy lamb caused the abdominal pain. is this correct? but how? i also drank a lot of water to go with it, so could this have caused bloating which strained the stomach muscles?

whatever it is, i am never doing it again!
posted by sardonicsmile to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
Excruciating pain is best dealt with via a trip to the emergency room.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:49 PM on February 17, 2008

sounds like gall bladder pain to me which would have been provoked by the spicy food. a trip to the doctor is in order.
posted by youcancallmeal at 3:51 PM on February 17, 2008

It sounds like heartburn to me. I had similar bouts of heartburn following an exceptionally spicy (but delicious) Thai meal. Frogs' legs on chili-basil sauce. I found that most painkillers wouldn't help, but that Ranitidine (Zantac is the most well-known brand) typically makes it go away after a few minutes or so.
The bad news is that I got this heartburn after greasy or exceptionally spicy meals for the next couple of years. I started to take Zantac with any meal that was likely to cause heartburn, and that seemed to help prevent it, but it wasn't a controlled test, obviously, as I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't taken it.
I tried a whole bunch of other heartburn medications, none of which helped. Zantac/Ranitidine is the best for infrequent heartburn that is provoked by spicy food.
posted by nowonmai at 3:53 PM on February 17, 2008

Sounds kind of like gallbladder attack -- though mine were so painful I'm not sure if I would've stopped to type that out when it happened to me. It was usually immediately apparent that I had to go to the ER. In any case no one here can diagnose you -- if you're in severe pain you need to a see a doctor stat.
posted by loiseau at 3:53 PM on February 17, 2008

thanks so much for the quick answers! the codeine tablet i took seems to be enough to have taken away the pain, so i think a bad case of heartburn may have been the case.

if the pain had been worse, then i may have suspected gallbladder problems.

going to check with my mother the nurse once she gets back from work today for another opinion though, just in case. thanks again.
posted by sardonicsmile at 4:08 PM on February 17, 2008

Another consideration is gas pain; stretching of hollow organs can cause intense pain; that is how kidney stones, gallstones, and ectopic pregnancies cause pain. There are a lot of other potential causes, though, so this is just speculation.
posted by TedW at 6:47 PM on February 17, 2008

And on rereading the post above mine, it is worth mentioning that codeine would help the pain no matter what the cause, so the fact that it took away the pain does not automatically mean that it was heartburn (which is a vague term to begin with). In fact, narcotics like codeine slow down the digestive tract and so may actually make some GI pathology worse. In general, I would suggest that if anyone hurts enough to need prescription pain meds, they probably ought to be looked at by a physician.
posted by TedW at 6:55 PM on February 17, 2008

Gallbladder pain can stop suddenly regardless of any pain medication you may have taken. I'm not saying this is the gallbladder, but that the codeine may not have necessarily been what stopped the pain. (IIRC -- I was a patient, not the doctor -- the gallstones get into a position which causes the cramping, then the cramping knocks them back out into a non-painful location after a while.)
posted by litlnemo at 7:03 PM on February 17, 2008

See a doctor, of course.

FYI, my second attack of gall stone pain was triggered by fatty delicious lamb.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:09 PM on February 17, 2008

Do check out the gallbladder. I had 3 attacks my first quarter of college at age 19, and went to the doctor when I went home for winter break. He said there's very little chance it was gallbladder, considering my age and general health, but did the tests just in case. Sure enough, I had it removed later that week.

Although for my attacks, I wasn't able to move, I was found once curled up on the shower floor. Good times, good times.
posted by shinynewnick at 7:19 PM on February 17, 2008

I second that it's gas. Did you try and take some over the counter gas pills before hitting the pain killers? I would recommend 2 of something like GasX and then lay straight out as you can. It should work within 1/2 hour - if it hasn't by then, it's something else. I get terrible gas pains from time to time - and there won't be any other evidence than the pain, and the fact that the gas pills work.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:17 PM on February 17, 2008

I've had gallstones and they are usually triggered by fatty meat type meals. A hot water bottle clutched to the left side of my stomach really helps and it does tend to stop quite suddenly.
posted by fshgrl at 9:52 PM on February 17, 2008

Do check out the gallbladder. I had 3 attacks my first quarter of college at age 19, and went to the doctor when I went home for winter break. He said there's very little chance it was gallbladder, considering my age and general health, but did the tests just in case.

yeah, if you look into the symptoms and think it's the gall bladder MAKE those bastards give you the ultra-sound. It took me nearly a year of doctors saying "no, you're too young to have gall bladder problems, here have some prevacid" before I finally went in for an appointment jaundiced from the bile that was backing up into my system and they decided that maybe i wasn't too young after all. this, of course, is after almost 5 to 6 years of experiencing limited attacks and not even having a diagnosis to go off of (a young ER doctor who I happened to visit during an attack told me it was very likely my gall bladder and that I needed to convince a regular doctor of the fact).

While heartburn can hurt, it's never crumpled me into a ball like a nice gall bladder attack. In fact, the pain of heartburn would probably be a nice break from gall bladder pain.

The one thing your doctor will probably ask you is which abdominal 'quadrant' your pain seems to be coming from -- after you've had it for awhile it can be ard to tell where it is emerging from, so try to figure out whether it's coming from the left or right lower side.
posted by fishfucker at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2008

oh, and if it *is* a gall bladder issue, as far as dealing with it, obviously codeine makes it manageable, but if you don't have any, hot showers or a heating blanket or both, interchanged, can help get you through. Prevention of attacks is typically done by consuming a BRAT diet, but that's a short-term solution, imho.
posted by fishfucker at 11:09 AM on February 18, 2008

Nthing gallbladder. The first night I had gallbladder pain I figured it was just some sort of bizarre heartburn (even though I never get heartburn) too, until it happened the next night, but MUCH worse. The thing where you can't get into a position that makes you feel a tiny bit more comfortable is a typical gallbladder attack thing. So is being woken up with pain at night/early in the morning. For me, the location of the pain was very obviously coming from my right side, just below the bottom of my ribcage. This is the exact location of the gallbladder.

People's tolerances/perceptions for pain are different. When I look back on the pain, I realize that it was fucking excruciating overall, especially as it was significantly worse each time. At one point I did collapse to my knees. But it didn't even occur to me to try OTC meds -- I just suffered through figuring that it couldn't last forever.
posted by desuetude at 12:35 PM on February 18, 2008

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