Symptoms of tummy ache include dyspepsia and less commonly, intestinal colic.
Dyspepsia literarily means “poor digestion”. This is a common symptom affecting many individuals. It can occur under normal circumstances should an individual overeat, experience dietary indiscretion or experience irregular meals. Dyspepsia may be “ulcer-like” or “dysmotility-like” in presentation.
“Ulcer-like” type dyspepsia is the burning sensation that one experiences during meals. Historically, it was assumed to be related to ulcers in the stomach or duodenum. With the advent of upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, it is seen that ulcers occur only in a small proportion of cases, with non-ulcer dyspepsia occurring predominantly. In situations where the stomach acid refluxes into the esophagus, symptoms of “heartburn” dominate.
“Dysmotility-like” type dyspepsia is commonly encountered. Locally, this symptom is commonly described as “wind”, a sensation of “bloating”, abdominal distension or “cannot digest”. Dysmotility symptoms can occur with disorders in the stomach or large colon. Less commonly, it occurs with disorders of the biliary tree or pancreas.
When dyspepsia is poorly characterized, it is important for sinister causes to be addressed especially in elderly individuals who are at higher risk of systemic and malignant disease.