Who does not know this - after a pleasurable, if greasy meal, you lean back relaxed, the taste of the last fork still on the tongue and suddenly it starts. If the stomach contracts convulsively or causes stinging, pulling pains, unpleasant abdominal pain in the left upper abdomen will result. It is usually a harmless symptom caused by the stretching of the stomach wall and fatty foods. However, concomitant symptoms may indicate certain clinical pictures.
A possible cause of abdominal pain from greasy food is the so-called reflux disease. The cause is the diminished muscle tension of the lower sphincter of the esophagus, which leads to the reflux of gastric acid into the esophagus. The most common symptom is heartburn, characterized by a burning sensation behind the sternum and acid regurgitation. If the heartburn persists for an extended period of time, irritation and inflammatory changes in the esophageal mucosa may occur.
Another possible cause of abdominal pain from greasy food is ulcer disease. These are mucosal defects that occur preferentially in the stomach (gastric ulcer) and the duodenum (duodenal ulcer) and are usually accompanied by nausea, flatulence, bloating and loss of appetite. The most common causes of ulcer are type B gastritis caused by Helicobacter pylori, chronic use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and nicotine and alcohol consumption.
Causing dull, nonspecific, or colicky abdominal pain after a high-fat meal may be gallstones. In many cases these do not cause any symptoms. In others, they cause severe pain, which can radiate into the right shoulder and are sometimes accompanied by fever and vomiting.
Conservative measures are often successful in treating abdominal pain from fatty foods. Increased pressure in the abdomen through tight garments and belts as well as hasty eating behavior should be avoided. In case of overweight, weight loss counteracts the symptoms.
If a doctor is consulted in the case of existing complaints, he will first rule out a cardiac cause and, if necessary, make an endoscopic assessment of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.
Drug therapy can be administered with proton pump inhibitors such as pantoprazole and H2-receptor antagonists such as ranitidine. They have an inhibiting effect on gastric acid production. Antacids neutralize the acidic pH in the stomach and reduce symptoms.
If the stomachache caused by greasy food is heartburn or epigastric pain, dietary habits should be considered first. Less high-fat meals, low meat consumption and avoiding lavish meals immediately before going to bed counteract the acidity of gastric juice.
Causes of increased gastric acid production can also be regular alcohol consumption and smoking. Their abandonment is another helpful remedy to alleviate the symptoms. Certain medications such as anticholinergics, nitrates, and calcium antagonists also promote heartburn.
There are several medicines that inhibit gastric acid production or neutralize gastric juice. Most commonly used are proton pump inhibitors such as pantoprazole.
The so-called gastric ulcer or gastric ulcer is usually treated with proton pump inhibitors. If an infection of the gastric mucosa is diagnosed with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, a triple therapy takes place. This consists of a proton pump inhibitor and two antibiotics. Follow-up by breath test is usually done six weeks later.
If gallstones cause abdominal pain due to greasy food, therapy must be provided. The treatment of choice for symptomatic gallstones with colicky pain is the minimally invasive removal of the gallbladder. It is a laparoscopic procedure over the abdominal wall.