Stomach Upset

Acute indigestion is not a disease in its own right. It is more of an acute discomfort in the stomach. Caused by food that is difficult to digest, fermented juices or other factors, the acute stomach upset can lead to a feeling of fullness, nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps or stomach pain. If symptoms persist, it’s probably not a harmless stomach upset.

Stomach Upset

What is an upset stomach?

According to Photionary, an upset stomach is defined as an acute but non-morbid state of discomfort in the stomach. The reason for this is usually not long ago. Stomach upset is usually the understandable result of eating too much, unsuitable, or spoiled food. The stomach therefore reports an overload or acute poisoning. He would like to be relieved and spared immediately so that he can fully fulfill his tasks again.


The causes of an upset stomach can be varied. An evening with a lot of alcohol and a lot of cigarettes can trigger acute stomach upsets just as much as eating too much fat on holidays. Spoiled, difficult to digest, intolerable or acidic foods and fermented drinks are a common cause of acute stomach upset.

Those who frequently consume industrially processed foods consume a lot of fat and sugar. This alone can lead to an upset stomach with heartburn. Excessive consumption of nicotine can also cause an upset stomach, especially when combined with alcohol. This can lead to hyperacidity or slight poisoning. This can result in an upset stomach with headaches and hangover symptoms.

Eating in a hurry or prolonged stress can also promote an upset stomach. However, it is also possible that the symptoms of an upset stomach are not recognized as a harbinger of impending gastritis. Anyone who frequently suffers from the typical symptoms of an upset stomach should therefore consult a doctor. In addition to gastritis, an irritable stomach could also feel similar to an upset stomach. With increased sensitivity in the stomach, the diet should be adjusted.

Food that has been recognized as incompatible must be largely avoided if stomach upsets occur frequently. In addition, the symptoms should be examined by a doctor. Even the early symptoms of cancer are sometimes confused with the typical signs of an upset stomach. Because the symptoms of an upset stomach are usually thought to be harmless, they are often not taken seriously.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Typical symptoms that can occur with an upset stomach include a feeling of fullness, acid reflux, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. It can cause uncomfortable heartburn and indigestion sounds in the stomach. In many cases, those affected have no appetite. Excessive accumulation of air in the abdomen can even make it difficult to breathe and strain the heart by pushing upwards.

In most cases, the symptoms of an upset stomach can be traced back to a recent cause. Accidental consumption of food that has gone bad or fermented food and drink can cause acute stomach pain, cramps, diarrhea, and malaise. Even if the symptoms of an acute stomach upset are temporary, they should be taken seriously.

Even after a bad cold, many people experience similar symptoms. At night, thick mucus runs from your paranasal sinuses into your throat. From there, the mucus enters the stomach. The subsequent discomfort, with nausea and loss of appetite, can resemble the symptoms of an upset stomach without the actual presence of an upset stomach.


Acute stomach upsets usually go without complications. The symptoms that occur should be overcome within a day through rest and relief. The symptoms usually end after the spoiled food or fermented drinks have been eliminated.

Complications can arise if it is not an upset stomach but another disease or acute poisoning. Symptoms can be similar at first. They then develop into more dramatic courses. The stomach upset that is felt may turn out to be mild alcohol poisoning, meat or fish poisoning, or salmonella disease. Complications can arise at any time from diagnostic misinterpretations.

As a complication of such developments, severe dehydration can result, especially in the elderly and small children. The impending loss of electrolytes and fluids must be compensated for promptly, otherwise they lead to a life-threatening condition.

Also, the symptoms of a hypothetical upset stomach may prove to be prolonged. If so, it could be gastritis. If left untreated, it can lead to stomach ulcers or, in the long term, to stomach cancer. In order to rule out such complications, a doctor should be consulted if stomach problems persist.

When should you go to the doctor?

An acute stomach upset can easily be treated by yourself. It should be gone after a day if you take it easy on your stomach. If this is not the case and the symptoms persist, it is advisable to consult a doctor. The same applies if the initial symptoms worsen over the course of the day.

If fever, frequent vomiting, liquid diarrhea and severe nausea occur, the person concerned should seek medical advice. Instead of an upset stomach, an acute illness requiring treatment could be behind it. This can be indicated, for example, by a bloated and hardened abdomen. A visit to the doctor is also advisable if you regularly experience stomach upset. There may be a serious illness behind it.

Even severe and life-threatening diseases can initially announce themselves with mild to moderate symptoms. Cancer in the stomach area does not initially cause any dramatic symptoms. Only a timely visit to the doctor enables early detection. It can therefore be life-saving. Not all stomach upset is dangerous. But it is also true: not every discomfort in the stomach is automatically harmless.


The diagnosis of an upset stomach is usually made by the person themselves. He may remember eating or drinking too much. The person concerned may have already suspected that a particular dish was no longer edible and ate it anyway. If the symptoms improve by resting and relieving the stomach, the self-diagnosis can remain.

However, if the symptoms are more serious or last longer, a medical diagnosis makes sense. The doctor can first determine by questioning what causes the patient suspects for his stomach upset. He can use a palpation to determine whether there is hardening in the abdomen or swelling of palpable organs. The doctor can listen to the abdomen with the stethoscope for unusual noise developments. Examination of the tongue may reveal any unusual discoloration, swelling, or odor. If the findings are unremarkable, the doctor will probably advise the person concerned to take more care and eat a low-irritant diet that is as basic as possible.

In the case of diagnostic abnormalities, other diagnostic methods can be used. Sonography can narrow down or rule out organic causes. Helicobacter pylori breath testing could confirm or rule out gastritis. If the abnormalities found are confirmed so that an organic cause is suspected, the doctor can refer the patient to a specialist for a gastroscopy or an MRI examination of the abdomen.

Treatment & Therapy

Self-treatment of an upset stomach can be initiated with relief and rest. Green clay in water can relieve heartburn. It frees the stressed stomach from cleavage products and ingested toxins. Homeopathic medicines such as Okoubaka 6X or Nux Vomica 6X can usually be used successfully against nausea, discomfort and mild poisoning caused by recreational toxins.

Gastrointestinal teas or Lefax chewable tablets can also be helpful for relief. Two liters of pure drinking water or herbal tea dilute the excess stomach acid. Small sips of hot water can provide quick relief for acute stomach pain, heartburn and cramps. If necessary, rest and warmth provide the necessary relaxation of the stomach. If none of that helps, the family doctor will prescribe a light diet, oatmeal and bed rest if the stomach upset is worse. He may also recommend antacids, natural remedies such as Iberogast® or a drug that stimulates intestinal peristalsis.

Treatment for a worse stomach upset should be cause-based and gentle. If, contrary to expectations, it is not an acute stomach upset, the therapy is more complex. In the case of gastritis, the acute symptoms can first be treated with medication. However, changing your diet to an alkaline diet also makes sense. Reducing stress and avoiding acid-forming foods and beverages such as alcohol, nicotine, sugary cola drinks or coffee help to improve the condition.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis is good if it is actually an acute stomach upset. In this case, self-treatment usually initiates an improvement within a few hours. In the case of undetected food poisoning or mild salmonellosis, the prognosis is only good if these diseases are treated correctly and promptly. The impending loss of electrolytes and fluids can have dramatic consequences if the diagnosis is incorrect.

These can be particularly dangerous for small children, the chronically ill and the elderly. Acute gastritis also has a good prognosis if the first symptoms of gastric mucosal irritation or inflammation are taken seriously. However, if gastritis occurs regularly, the diet should be reconsidered. The consumption of alcohol, nicotine, coffee, sugary and carbonated cola drinks can also promote gastritis.

If it occurs repeatedly, there is a risk that the gastritis will become chronic. In this case, the prognosis is significantly worse. Stomach ulcers, frequent heartburn as a sign of chronic reflux syndrome or stomach cancer can develop from chronic gastritis. The prognosis is also worse if an upset stomach is mistakenly assumed and not treated.

There may be problems with the upper intestine, bile ducts, liver or pancreas that require treatment. If these are not recognized and treated promptly, serious consequences can threaten. Therefore, persistent and unexplained abdominal discomfort should never be ignored.


It is possible to prevent an upset stomach. The personal preparation of fresh, largely alkaline food is a good basis for lasting well-being. Restraint from eating unhealthy foods, industrially manufactured convenience products and certain stimulants leads to lasting good health in most people.

A balanced lifestyle and enough sleep keep you vital and efficient. Despite these measures, an upset stomach may occasionally occur. Bacterial contamination, imminent intolerances or beginning fermentation processes are not always recognized in good time. However, common sense suggests that food that is not refrigerated can spoil or be contaminated with germs.

Special care should be taken when storing and preparing dishes with raw eggs and raw meat. Proper kitchen hygiene is advisable to prevent stomach upset. Moderate food portions and a balanced diet low in meat, sugar and fat promote good health. In people who live healthy lives, an upset stomach is rare.


An upset stomach does not always have to lead to special complications or serious symptoms. It occurs relatively frequently and usually only causes discomfort for a short time, whereby an upset stomach usually goes away on its own, so that special treatment is not necessary. The symptoms can also be similar to the symptoms of a flu or a cold, so that there is generally a feeling of discomfort, permanent tiredness and exhaustion. An upset stomach can usually be treated well, so follow-up care is often not necessary.

You can do that yourself

In the event of an acute stomach upset, the organism sends a signal for incorrect behavior or the consequences of overexertion. Heeding this signal can help prevent further consequences. It’s normal to occasionally overdo it with food or worldly pleasures. Nevertheless, restraint when it comes to unhealthy luxury foods is the better choice.

Cooking from fresh ingredients yourself is a smart move. Freshly processed food ensures a sufficient supply of nutrients and lasting well-being. A healthy lifestyle also keeps the stomach healthy. Stress, arguments, financial pressure, or unresolved emotional issues can all contribute to an upset stomach. The stomach then becomes the spokesman for the entire organism. Heeding its warning signals and adjusting your behavior can prevent further stomach upsets.

It is also important to adapt your diet and lifestyle to your age. Thanks to a changed metabolism, not all foods and luxury foods are equally digestible in old age. An acute overload of the digestive organs is therefore more noticeable as an upset stomach. As you get older, it makes sense to take better care of yourself. Even on holidays there is no reason to give up the usual restraint when eating in favor of gluttony.

Enjoyability is not based on the amount of food eaten, but on the conscious appreciation of all aromas, colors and textures. These pleasures can be intensified by chewing slowly and consciously. This relieves the digestive system of some of the work. Consuming largely alkaline food is a guarantee that you will be well in the long term. Acid-forming luxury foods and foods should only make up a small part of the food consumed.