Again, I am really sorry you are in distress. Please understand though that online, no one can state with certainty what anything is, or make any diagnosis, all I can do is offer my best most informed guess based on what you wrote. Thats why I asked so many questions; the more information I have, the better I can opine.
First, your pain level is distressing, but it is not at a level (yet) which signifies a true emergency. If you had said your pain was at a 7 or 8 or above out of 10, that would make things far more urgent...not that your situation is not important, I am just saying that just based on that, it does not strike me so far as a medical emergency.
A couple of possibles present themselves. One is that you could be having some heartburn or GERD. Normally, there is a sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach to keep the contents of the stomach in the stomach. If this muscle is weakened for any reason, acid from the stomach can regurgitate into the esophagus, and that can indeed cause pain depending on how high the fluid rises. Simple heartburn is easily treated, un treated heartburn can result in GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease).
Certain foods can make GERD/ heartburn worse, (I am noting two possible dairy cases in what you write, depending on how you make oatmeal) so if you notice more discomfort after eating acidic foods, or caffeine, or alcohol, cut down on the intake of those food items. Also, remaining upright after a meal will help also, as will eating small meals throughout the day as opposed to two or three large ones. Stress has also been implicated as a factor in making GERD and heartburn worse, certainly you have been under stress with constant stomach pains for the past few years.
GERD doesn't go away, if this is heartburn at all, but it can be made less with some lifestyle changes such as avoiding caffeine, alcohol, peppermint, and fatty foods (that cheeseburger and if you make oatmeal with milk or butter) . Smaller meals will also help reduce the severity of GERD as it wont fill up your stomach as much. Also, avoid lying down after you eat, remaining upright will help keep the stomach contents in the stomach.
There are over the counter treatments for heartburn: antacids like Malox, medications that block the stomach from making the acid like Zantac, and medications that block the production of acid in a different way, like prilosec. Severe GERD that is not treated can result in ulcers and do damage to the esophagus that can make it more prone to developing cancers.
If you use these OTC measures and the heartburn does not go away, then do seek medical care.
Also, if you are obese, or a smoker, those will make you more likely to get heartburn as smoking changes the muscle tone of that sphincter as does extra weight.
In truly horrid cases of GERD, surgery can be done.
Here are two helpful websites on GERD: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gerd/DS00967/DSECTION=1
and : http://www.medicinenet.com/gastroesophageal_reflux_disease_gerd/article.htm
Second possible: You may have an ulcer. An ulcer is when the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine is eaten away by stomach acid. Usually, the stomach produces a special layer of mucous to prevent the stomach acid from irritating it. If that lining is thin or damaged in places, then the stomach acid will corrode the stomach, wherever the "breach" occurs. People with ulcers have pain which usually is relieved by food, but then occurs again after eating, and it is worse when you are hungry as the stomach is empty (that is because the food helps neutralize the acid).
The most common reason for people to get this is a bacteria called H. pylori.
Other reasons for ulcers can include medications such as motrin/advil, and alcohol and cigarettes. Untreated and as they get worse, ulcers can bleed, and the blood loss can be severe. And if there is a big hole in the stomach, stomach contents can be released into the body, and that peritonitis (infection of the body cavity) can be very bad. Blood in the stools can appear as black and tarry stools. Ulcers are not typically associated with diarrhea.
Treatment of ulcers is with antibiotics if it is caused by H pylori; if it is not caused by H pylori treatment is prescription medication.
You need to be seen by your provider to be tested for H pylori, to establish if your ulcer...if this is an ulcer at all.... was caused by that bacteria.
Third Possible: You are describing pain that happened after a cheeseburger and after oatmeal. I don't know how you make your oatmeal, but many people put milk and or butter in it. So, you had pain on your right side after eating fatty foods. This could indicate a potential problem with your pancreas which makes the enzymes to digest fats, or the gallbladder, which stores the bile that digests the fats. Your liver could be having issues as well when you have pain on the right side after eating a fatty meal. Pain of a gallbladder, liver, or pancreatic attack though is normally more severe than what you describe, and is not characterized as crampy...its more like stabbing pain.
Here is more information about gallstones:
Fourth: That possible dairy and the cramping and bloating makes me wonder if you may possibly have developed some lactose intolerance you are just noticing. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy and its not uncommon for people to become unable to process it as they get older.
When was your last bowel movement? You may be constipated and having crampy pains because you need to have a movement; it may be occurring after eating because there is a reflex to defecate after we eat (its called the gastro colic reflex).
I mentioned your appendix because any pain on the right side should at least raise a red flag for that...but if it was your appendix the pain would be constant, becoming more severe over time, migrating to your lower right side, you'd have fever, nausea and vomiting. IF any of these do appear, please go to the Emergency Room.
So, thats my list of possibles...but you want to know what to do NOW because you ache. If its heartburn, try an antacid. If this pain does not go away with the antacid, and gets worse, and or you have nausea, vomiting, fever, then it may be that it is not heartburn, and a greater index of suspicion that something more serious may be happening...like a problem with liver, pancreas, or gallbladder. If the pain does gets worse, I would suggest heading to an ER for evaluation.
I hope I was able to help, and I hope you feel better soon.
I am happy its getting better...that makes me believe it may have been some heartburn, but of course I cant state that with any precision or certainty.
Nurse Susan, Nurse (RN)
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