The feeling Of A Tight Band Around Your Stomach: 7 Causes Explained.
The feeling of a tight band around your stomach is commonly caused by a condition called functional dyspepsia. Other less common causes include irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis, chronic gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, gallbladder inflammation, food intolerances, and others.
Keep reading this article where we breakdown the symptoms of each possible cause.
1- Functional Dyspepsia (Indigestion).
Functional Dyspepsia is one of the most common conditions all over the world. Up to 30% of people worldwide suffer from some sort of dyspepsia. (ref).
Functional dyspepsia is the most important cause to consider if you have a feeling of a tight band around your stomach.
This sense of fullness after eating is the main feature of functional dyspepsia (Indigestion).
Symptoms (how to suspect Functional dyspepsia).
According to ROME IV criteria for the diagnosis of functional dyspepsia, the presence of one or more of the following symptoms (after the exclusion of the organic diseases of your gut) is indicative for FD.
- Postprandial fullness: a feeling of fullness or tight band around your stomach. It usually starts during or soon after eating.
- Early satiety: you are unable to complete your meal because of the fullness or the tight band that develops around your stomach.
- Epigastric discomfort, pain, or burning: that develops after eating.
In 75% of cases of functional dyspepsia (FD), no organic cause can be detected.
Possible explanations of functional dyspepsia include:
- Abnormal motility of stomach: slow, rapid, or irregular stomach motility.
- Visceral hypersensitivity: lower thresholds to pain in your stomach. You feel pain when food starts to stretch your stomach or duodenum.
- H. pylori infection: some studies links h pylori infection (a stomach bug) to functional dyspepsia.
- Altered gut microbiome: alternation in the beneficial micro-organisms inside your intestines and stomach.
- Psychological factors: Stress, anxiety, depressive disorders can result in dyspepsia.
Functional dyspepsia has two types:
- Postprandial distress syndrome: in this subtype of functional dyspepsia you will not feel pain in the upper stomach area. Instead, a feeling of distress, fullness, or a tight band develops around your stomach. This feeling starts during or soon after meals. Early satiety may also exist.
- Epigastric pain syndrome: epigastric pain or burning that can occur at any time and is not related to the time of meals. This subtype of functional dyspepsia is not likely to cause the feeling of a tight band around your stomach.
Best treatments and remedies for functional dyspepsia:
- Get diagnosed: the first step to get diagnosed, especially if you’re older in age or the symptoms are severe enough to affect your eating or your weight.
- Avoid trigger foods: such as excessive amounts of milk, caffeine, fatty or fried foods, alcohol, mint, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and spicy foods.
- Avoid large meals: instead, eat smaller and more frequent meals.
- Be physically active, walk or do light exercise after meals.
- Lose weight.
- Use acid-reducing medications such as H2 blockers (as Pepcid), Proton Pump inhibitors (as Nexium), or an antacid (as Gaviscon).
- Use a motility-regulating medication: such as Domperidone (Motilium) or Metoclopramide (Reglan). Ask your doctor about the best medications for your condition. Don’t take any medications without medical permission.
- Try natural remedies for dyspepsias such as Peppermint (capsules or tea), Chamomile tea, Apple cider vinegar, Ginger, and Fennel seed.
Gastroparesis is not a functional disease as functional dyspepsia. It is a real motility disease of your stomach.
With Gastroparesis, your stomach is unable to properly contract and propel food. As a result, food stays longer inside your stomach causing symptoms.
Causes of gastroparesis include: (ref)
- Unknown: about half of the cases of gastroparesis has no obvious cause.
- Diabetes Mellitus: diabetes destroys the nerves supplying your stomach leading to gastroparesis.
- Some viral infections may induce gastropareses such as norovirus and rotavirus infection.
- Some Medications: some anti-hypertensive drugs, tricyclic antidepressants, clonidine, GLP-1 agonists (a diabetes drug) can cause gastroparesis.
- Post-surgery: injury to the vagus nerve during abdominal or chest operations can lead to gastroparesis.
- Neurological diseases such as Multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis causes a famous condition called “MS hug” or “MS band”. It is a feeling of a tight band around your chest or stomach.
Symptoms of gastroparesis include:
- Abdominal discomfort or pain: with the feeling of a tight band around your stomach.
- Nausea and vomiting are more common with gastroparesis than functional dyspepsia.
- Early satiety.
- Bloating and fullness after meals.
- Weight loss in severe cases.
Gastroparesis is suspected when nausea, bloating, and vomiting are frequent.
Your doctor may require a special test to diagnose gastroparesis. The test is called “gastric emptying study”.
During this test, you ingest a meal with radioactive material. A specialized camera detects how fast your stomach empties.
We wrote a detailed article about this test. Learn more HERE.
3- Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
IBS is another extremely common condition that can cause fullness or bloat. IBS affects up to 30% of people worldwide. IBS and functional dyspepsia are the most frequent gut diseases.
According to ROME IV criteria for the diagnosis of IBS, the disease is considered when:
- Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort that occurs at least one day per week (for the last 3 months).
- The abdominal pain is associated with at least 2 of:
- Defecation: the pain may decrease or increase during and after bowel movements.
- Change in stool frequency: the onset of pain is associated with diarrhea or constipation.
- Change in stool consistency: the onset of pain is associated with loose or hard stools.
Although bloating (visible abdominal distension) is not a criterion for IBS diagnosis, but it is widely common among IBS sufferers. (ref)
A sense of tight band around your stomach can be a manifestation of IBS. Consult your doctor if you suspect IBS.
4- Chronic Gastritis.
Chronic gastritis and peptic ulcer disease present with burning or gnawing pain in the upper stomach area. Milder and chronic forms may present with epigastric discomfort or a tight feeling around your stomach.
Symptoms (how to suspect gastritis):
- The tight feeling is usually associated with pain in the upper part of your stomach. the pain can be sharp, burning, or gnawing.
- Related to meals: especially heavy fatty or spicy meals.
- Associated with nausea or vomiting.
- In severe cases, an ulcer can develop and it can bleed.
- Having H. pylori infection, recent use of analgesics, caffeine abuse, or alcohol abuse increases the risk of gastritis.
5- GERD (chronic acid reflux).
The main symptom of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is Heartburn. Burning chest sensation (heartburn) or regurgitation of foods or fluids into your throat or mouth is suggestive of GERD.
A tight feeling around your stomach together with heartburn may indicate acid reflux. Consult your doctor if you suspect GERD as a cause of the tight band feeling around your stomach.
6- Food intolerance.
Sometimes the feeling of a tight stomach is related to certain foods. Many people have a degree of intolerance to some types of food.
Food intolerance means difficulty digesting certain foods or food constituents. This results in symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain.
- Abdominal discomfort (including a feeling of a tight band around your stomach).
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Gas, cramps, and bloating.
Common offending foods that cause intolerance symptoms:
- Lactose intolerance: found in milk and dairy products.
- Gluten: found in wheat and barley. Gluten may cause chronic diarrhea and bloating; a condition called celiac disease. Also, it can cause a milder form called “Non-celiac gluten sensitivity”.
- Caffeine: found in coffee and caffeinated drinks.
- FODMAPs: are highly fermentable short-chain sugars including lactose, sucrose, fructose, and others.
7- Gallbladder conditions.
Gallbladder inflammation or the presence of gallstones usually causes sharp upper stomach pain (more at the right).
However, in chronic or mild cases, mild degrees of tightness around your stomach can occur without actual inflammation.
Symptoms suggestive of gallbladder pain include:
- Right upper stomach pain or discomfort after eating (especially fatty meals).
- Nausea is usually present.
- The pain usually radiates to the back and the right shoulder.
- In mild cases, a tight feeling around your stomach may occur.
8- Pancreatic conditions.
Acute pancreatitis is characterized by intense pain in the upper stomach area. However, a milder, chronic inflammation of the pancreas can happen (called chronic pancreatitis).
Chronic pancreatitis can present with or without abdominal pain. prolonged pancreatitis may lead to fat malabsorption.
Chronic pancreatitis and the resulting malabsorption may lead to symptoms of indigestion or the feeling of a tight band around your stomach.
9- “Mechanical” causes of tight feeling around your stomach.
The sense of tightness or fullness around your stomach can be related to mechanical causes. a space-occupying organ, tumor, or fluid inside your abdomen can lead to a sense of tight stomach.
A- Enlargement of an abdominal organ.
Such as enlargement of the spleen (splenomegaly) or the liver (Hepatomegally). Sometimes the enlargement is enough to cause a tight feeling around your stomach. the most common organ to cause such a condition is the spleen. common causes of splenic enlargement include:
- Liver cell failure (liver cirrhosis).
- Hemolytic anemias (such as thalassemias).
- Blood malignancies (such as leukemias).
- Lymphomas (Hodgkin’s lymphoma).
pregnancy can produce a feeling of a tight band around your stomach. this results in symptoms similar to indigestion. This effect is more prevalent in the last trimester of your pregnancy due to the mechanical effect of the uterus on your digestive system.
Malignant tumors arising from abdominal organs can produce a tight feeling around your stomach if they are large enough.
Common malignancies that can cause a tight feeling around your stomach.
- Gastric cancer.
- splenic lymphoma.
- Hepatocellular carcinoma or metastatic cancer in the liver.
- Ovarian cancer (which can reach a large size).
Ascites are a collection of fluid inside your abdomen (in the peritoneal cavity). Moderate to severe forms of ascites can produce symptoms of fullness and tightness in the stomach.
Ascites affects people who have major diseases such as:
- liver cirrhosis.
- Heart failure.
- Renal diseases.
- malignant spread into the peritoneal cavity.