When it comes to stomach pain, finding the cause of your tummy trouble can be harder than solving an advanced Sudoku. Use this symptom decoder to help decipher what"s up with your gut.

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What it feels like: Pain or burning below your breastbone that"s usually worse after you eat or when you lie down, said Dr. David Peura, former chairman of the National Heartburn Alliance.

Fix it: If you feel the burn only a few times a year, treat it with antacids like Tums. If you get it a couple of times a week, you could have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). A doctor can determine whether a medication to reduce acid production will help you.

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2. Appendicitis

What it is: Inflammation of the appendix, a narrow fingerlike pouch attached to the colon. Over 5% of people will have trouble with it sometime in their lives.

What it feels like: A dull discomfort around your belly button that moves to your lower right abdomen. It becomes extremely painful as time passes — and walking makes the pain worse.


Fix it: Go to the emergency room immediately! You need surgery to remove your appendix. If you wait too long, it can rupture and be life threatening.

3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What it is: A malfunction of the nerves that control the intestines, studies suggest that about 12% of the population has IBS.

What it feels like: Nausea, bloating, diarrhea or constipation and cramps in the lower part of your abdomen. These symptoms tend to lessen when you move your bowels, said Dr. Lauren Gerson, a former assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Fix it: Visit the doctor, who will probably prescribe an antispasmodic drug to regulate your impulse to go and relieve the general discomfort as well.

4. Gallstones

What they are: Pea- to golf ball-size nuggets in the gallbladder, a sac connected to the liver and small intestine. Made of hardened cholesterol and bile (a fluid that helps digest fat), they"re caused by a high-fat diet or a gallbladder that doesn"t empty properly. Gallstones are very common and women are more likely to experience them than men.


What it feels like: Burning pain in your stomach that comes and goes but feels worse when you"re hungry.

Fix it: If you"re taking nonsteroidal drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen, stop immediately, Peura said —these medications eat away at the stomach lining. See your doctor; you may need antibiotics to kill ulcer-causing bacteria, or even surgery.

6. Lactose Intolerance

What it is: Discomfort after consuming milk products due to a deficit in the enzyme that digests lactose, the sugar found in dairy products.


What if feels like: Nausea, cramps, bloating, gas and/or diarrhea 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking foods containing lactose.


Fix it: Drink less milk, or have it with other foods to slow the digestion process. Try experimenting with an assortment of dairy products. Hard cheeses such as Swiss or cheddar have small amounts of lactose and generally don"t cause symptoms. Important note for the lactose intolerant: because dairy products are some of the most common sources of calcium, make sure you"re getting enough of that essential mineral elsewhere in your diet.

7. Crohn"s Disease

What it is: The most common of a group of diseases called inflammatory bowel disease. Crohn"s usually affects the end of the small intestine and the colon.

What it feels like: Persistent abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss and sometimes fever. You might find blood in your stools.

Fix it: Crohn"s is most common in people under age 30. Though treatable, there is no cure. Treatments include anti-inflammatory medicines and steroids, which you might have to take for a few years or for a lifetime.

8. Colitis

What it is: A common type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects only the colon and rectum. A young person"s disease, most cases are diagnosed by age 30.


What it feels like: Belly pain or cramps, bloody diarrhea, an urgent need to have a bowel movement, weight loss, nausea and sometimes vomiting.

Fix it: If mild, treat the symptoms with over-the-counter medications. In severe cases, you might have to take anti-inflammatory medicines or steroids.

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9. Celiac Disease

What it is: A digestive disease that damages the small intestine due to an intolerance to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Often misdiagnosed as IBS, celiac disease is now considered one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders.