Very unpleasant and can be disabling, abdominal pain is often benign. In the case where the stomach ache is not serious and occasional, it is possible to treat it by self-medication. What over-the-counter medications should be preferred? TipsForWomens takes stock with Dr. Gérald Kierzek, emergency doctor and medical director at TipsForWomens.
Cramps, spasms, heartburn, swollen stomach… Stomach aches manifest themselves in different ways. According to Leem, the professional organization of pharmaceutical companies, 8 out of 10 French people resorted to self-medication in 2018. Among them, 21% took non-prescription drugs to treat abdominal pain.
Stomach pain: what medication to take?
As a reminder, if you suffer from a stomach ache without serious factors (intense, sudden pain, accompanied by fever, nausea, a general deterioration in the state of health… to find out more, discover our article “Stomach ache: the signs that should worry you”), you can resort to self-medication.
In this case, be sure to observe the precautions for use (the dosage, the maximum recommended dose, etc.). Taking medication without the advice of a healthcare professional may put you at risk of a drug interaction. This is why, if in doubt, do not hesitate to seek advice from your pharmacist or your doctor.
As Dr. Gérald Kierzek points out, you have to be very careful with self-medication, especially to treat a stomach ache. “Depending on the pain encountered, the choice of medication will vary”.
Here are the useful over-the-counter medications for stomach ache:
In the event that the stomach ache corresponds to “painful bowel contractions“, Dr. Gérald Kierzek indicates that it is necessary to favor the use of antispasmodic drugs (Débridat®️, Spasfon®️…). The use of this type of drug nevertheless has several side effects such as dry mouth, constipation or increased heart rate.In addition, the effectiveness of antispasmodics may vary from person to person.
If the stomach ache corresponds to temporary heartburn, the expert recommends turning to the use of antacid drugs (Mopralpro®️, Ipraloox®️, Gaviscon®️…). These will neutralize or reduce the acidity of the gastric juice. In case of acid reflux, these drugs are also effective. However, in cases of severe renal insufficiency, these antacid drugs are contraindicated.
Taking analgesics containing paracetamol is recommended to reduce the pain of stomach aches (Efferalgan®️, Doliprane®️, Dafalgan®️…). However, in case of allergy, paracetamol is not recommended. “In case of stomach aches, aspirin and anti-inflammatories are to be avoided in self-medication to relieve the pain”, specifies the medical director of TipsForWomens. According to Health Insurance, if the pain worsens after taking painkillers, you should consult your doctor.
When should a health professional be consulted?
“If the stomach aches persist after 48 hours after self-medication, consult your doctor without delay”, says Dr Gérald Kierzek. It is also strongly advised to consult your doctor if your stomach ache is accompanied by:
- More intense and disabling pain (in “stabbing”);
- Difficulty urinating;
- Absence of stools, black stools or stools containing blood.
As the Health Insurance specifies, in the event that the pain becomes brutal, that you vomit blood, that you feel unwell or that you have difficulty breathing, dial 15 (SAMU).
If the pains are related to the female cycle and they are intense, then it is recommended to consult a gynecologist. An examination will be necessary to identify the cause of his pain and thus find the appropriate treatment.