stomach pain that gets better when I lie down

Posted , 32 users are following.

Hi, no idea if I'm posting this in the right place but I'm hoping to find some answers.

My stomach hurts sometimes. Upper abdomen (below my chest but above my belly button, spread out in the center), a few times a year. It's a dull (but sharp when I breathe in or out) pain that lasts a few hours to a day or two.

When I lie down, it goes away almost completely, and I can finally breathe in and out without pain (except for a very sharp pain if I suck in all the way). However, it returns almost as soon as I stand up, and generally stops after a few hours.

This has been happening since I was 9 (so not cramps), and the only pattern I notice is that it happens more often when I'm flying/traveling (but not always). It's happening right now, which is why I'm asking, but the last time it happened was July 21, 2018. Before that, March 2017, but there's probably one or two I'm forgetting.

Any ideas of what this could be? I don't have any other known medical concerns.

1 like, 26 replies

26 Replies

  • Posted

    It could just be trapped wind but I suggest you see your doctor as it may be something else

  • Posted

    Considering this has been going on since you were 9, which i presuming would be a number of year now, then i can see it being anything too serious, if it were you would know about by now. As was suggested it could be trapped with, which believe me can be very painful. It could be a number of other things, food intolerance, hernia, ulcers, to name a few, but as you experience no other issues then its unlikely to be any of these. Best idea would be to seek the advice of your doctor and get a diagnosis.

    • Posted

      sorry for my typing skills, meant to say 'i can't see it being anything too serious'

  • Posted

    Are you having trouble with constipation/diarrhoea or loose urgent stools? Do you have the pain after eating? Since it happens after travelling/flying , do you think it could be linked to stress? Two causes could be gastritis or IBS. Try a food diary and monitor stress levels to identify a pattern to your pain. Both these conditions are strongly linked to stress. If you haven't seen a doctor, make an appointment to get tests and a diagnosis. You will get a more definite answer from your doctor.

  • Posted

    i have ibs and have occasional bouts of gastritis. These bouts of gastritis for me are like waves of pain just below the ribcage. The pain starts dull the progresses to a sharp pain then eases back . Ive had several bouts of this and 3 times ive had this on an airoplane .

  • Posted

    I have similar pains, that have started 4-5 years ago, when I was on birth-control (Nuvaring). My pain would be on the left side of my stomach, under my breast and sometimes reach my back. This pains would always come during the time, when I was supposed to have a break from the birth-control and have my period. The pain would be so sever, that I would lay in bed for 2 days straight. I just couldn't stand up, because the pain would come back. However while I was laying down - I felt OK. So naturally I stopped taking the birth-control, since it was causing me problems. But to this day I still from time to time get this pains - independent of my period. They are not as bad as before, but I always have to get away from situations and go home to lay down for few hours, usually I go to sleep. Doctors gave me no answers so far. I just hope that it isn't something serious.

    My theories are: It could be something with pancreas, something with hormonal imbalance, trapped gas, hernia or something with muscles.

  • Posted

    Hi Olivia,

    I can't tell you how glad I am to see this post. I have been trying to find someone with these symptoms on the internet for YEARS!!

    Your description sounds identical to what I have. I think the first time I had symptoms was around 8/9 after I had an Indian in a restaurant and it was so bad that my Grandparents had to carry me home. I'm 21 now and I get it now and again and it really is awful. Although the pain doesn't come on regularly, it is so annoying as it always seems to be when I'm in a situation where I can't lie down!

    For me, it is almost certain to come on when I am flying. I've actually found a solution though that might help you... I take Gaviscon sachets with me and take one about an hour before I fly and sometimes top up with one on the plane. You should look at getting some as they come in small packets that are suitable for flying.

    You're so right about it going away as soon as you lie down. It's almost miraculous. One time when I was flying a few years ago it got so bad that I was crying and had to lie down in the back of the plane where the flight attendants sit. I was in such pain that they were considering landing the plane. I was like "no it's fine I just need to lie down for a bit"! I've come to the conclusion that it's something to do with the air pressure when at a high altitude.

    Anyway, what I want to say is that I had an endoscopy and stomach biopsy several years ago and it was somewhat inconclusive. The results came back saying that I had a slight hiatus hernia... however that is consistent with EXTRA pain when lying down so it certainly can't be that causing the pain. They also said it could be acid reflux but I've had that before and it doesn't feel the same.

    What I wonder is whether it is something rare that doctors aren't too aware of... my GP is amazing and so I'm sure they would have diagnosed something if it was a well-known issue.

    Do you find that the pain comes on more if you've not eaten in a while? I think there could be a correlation for me when I have an empty stomach.

    If you've seen a doctor and had a diagnosis since your post please let me know so I can explore that! If not, I would go see your doctor about getting an endoscopy - it's quite an invasive procedure but you can get local anesthetic.

    All the best


    • Posted

      OMG! I am experiencing these symptoms too!

      They started when I was around 11. Abdominal pain starts somewhere in the upper abdomen and spreads to the center. It gets really intense, but completely disappears when I lie down and then gradually comes back if I get up again. These flare-ups are not frequent but very painful. I usually get 3-7 weeks of this pain on and off and then like months or years of remission. I often develop this during flying. When I was around 20 it happened when I was on a long-haul-flight. I thought I would die, no exaggeration. The pain was so bad that I thought something must have gone terribly wrong inside of me. But as soon as I was able to lie down horizontally it got so much better.

      Flying is a definitely a big trigger for me too. I will try Gaviscon! Thank you Tallula!

      And for me too empty stomach for more than 5-7 hours seems to make this pain more likely.

      It sounds very very similar to what tallula09570 and olivia40971 are describing!

      What I found really helps is not just lying down but lying on the right side.

      I tried to talk to doctors about this, but all tests come back satisfactory. They just get odd results like low iron or high bilirubin, but none of them go together to explain this, so they just say it is related to stress, which makes no sense.

      Around 14 year of age, one technician told me I had mild inflammation of the stomach lining - he said it was probably gastritis but it does not explain all of these symptoms.

      I am 24 now and these symptoms just seem to be getting more frequent. Remission period just seem to shorten and I developed other symptoms too. I will be going to a doctor next week again hoping to find some answers.

    • Posted

      Could be stress related , since all your tests are negative. Do you get bowel habit change? Since you have found flying sets your pain off, it could be that you have a fear of flying and this is causing you anxiety and triggering an IBS flare up.There are many triggers for IBS. Has your doctor not suggested IBS? When nothing can be found, IBS is diagnosed.

    • Posted

      I have exactly the same pain! I'm 24 and never flown so I don't know what my symptoms would be like if I did, but I have sharp abdominal cramping pain almost weekly, if not more often at other times. It will sure as anything hit me if I let myself miss a meal and then when I do eat the symptoms don't go away until I lie flat on my back. I've been close to taking myself to A&E at times when it has been especially bad and I can only describe the pain as if someone is twisting knives inside my stomach and abdomen. I actually wonder if it is hormone related because it gets significantly worse around the time my period is due, but it is definitely not period pains as they are a lot lower down! A lot of people have thought it's really odd that the pain is relieved by lying down. I wish I had some answers..

    • Posted

      I have been having very similar issues as to what is being described here for over 6 months. A year ago it started with mild intermittent URQ and back pain, then it progressed to pain/sensation of bloating under ribs. Have seen so many specialist and did a load of tests, ultra sounds, echocardiogram, endoscopy, colonoscopy (have had some weight loss), abdominal X-ray, tons of blood work, special liver tests, and all that has come back is slightly elevated bilirubin and very mild gastritis. The hospital that did the X-ray, this was a few months after colonoscopy indicated that I was constipated as the colon looked larger in the URQ and prescribed me laxatives which made things worse (the constipation was a surprise as I go to the bathroom regularly = everyday). I have tried everything from natrupath to all kinds of medications (less antidepressants for IBS) and cant figure it out. I have found taking PPIs or any acid reducers moves the pain from the left side of the ribs to the right side (feels like a cramp into my chest). Lately the only thing that helps is laying down with a heating pad on the area. In addition to the abdominal pains, I have had other weird symptoms like a dry/sore throat for over 6 months and waves of exhaustion with general muscle aches. Must add that all this started during a high stress and low sleep period in my life. 2 doctors have said its ibs (even thou this doesn’t feel like it to me - have had ibs for 15 years this feels something different) and the slightly elevated bilirubin was diagnosed as Gilbert syndrome by a liver specialist. So basically to date, 1 year of testing and consultation and nothing to help with what is going on, the issues seems to be getting worse. Next trying therapist and chiropractor (because sometimes it feels like it’s muscle related) and will ask doctor for a mild antidepressant to see if that helps if this is indeed ibs hypersensitivity. Sorry for the long story.

      Male 35, problems started a year after the first child.

    • Posted

      l have very similar symptoms, left side under ribs to center and then down abdomen, sometimes it feels like a muscle problem (left lower pec), cant find any one thing that triggers symptoms/discomfort. I had gall bladder removed 4 months ago (it was functioning at 10%). It has improved since then, but when l get the pain/discomfort, the only thing that works is lying flat on my back, antacids do nothing. blood tests are normal outside of liver ALT enzyme at 57, which is barely out of range.

      Next step is upper endoscopy in a couple weeks.

    • Posted

      I have the exact same thing!! However, I realised this completely goes away during periods when I was very active in sports and was very fit. But it came back now that I have quit the sports I was doing and am unfit again. To give context, I am borderline on overweight but I do have a higher fat percentage than a healthy person. Perhaps it has something to do with the pressure of fats on some stomach muscles??

  • Posted

    Try taking testing for h. pylori. This bacteria creates a lot of unexplained symptoms and it always varies from person to person.

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