Intestinal cramps without diarrhea

Definition - What are intestinal cramps without diarrhea?

Intestinal cramps describe excessive tension in the smooth intestinal muscles. These muscles are responsible for the so-called peristalsis, which moves food in the intestine. The function of the muscles can be disturbed by various factors, leading to increased and prolonged periods of tension. This causes intestinal cramps.

They are often accompanied by other digestive tract complaints such as diarrhea. Diarrhea refers to an increased frequency of stool (at least three times a day), often it comes in addition to a soft to a liquid consistency of the stool. Intestinal cramps without diarrhea, on the other hand, occur with normal bowel movements, possibly also constipation.


Bowel cramps are often associated with diarrhea, but this does not always have to be the case. On the contrary, intestinal cramps occasionally result from diseases that are associated with constipation. A particularly common cause of this is diet. A sufficient amount of water, for example, ensures that the body can excrete sufficient fluid in the stool. This is the only way to give the stool its typical consistency. On the other hand, if there is too little liquid, it will solidify. This can cause painful bowel movements, as well as abdominal pain and bowel cramps. When it comes to nutrition, you should pay attention to a balanced diet rich in fiber. Too little fiber can also cause constipation. Occasionally, food intolerances lead to intestinal cramps without diarrhea. Other diseases such as inflammation in the intestines can also cause the symptoms. When the last sections of the intestine are affected, bowel movements are often difficult due to pain. This leads to increased retention of stool, whereupon the stool is thickened, so that constipation can also occur. Intestinal cramps without diarrhea can also have psychological causes. For many people, stress literally hits the stomach or the intestines, causing intestinal cramps and the associated pain.

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Other accompanying symptoms

Bowel cramps are usually accompanied by cramping pain. These are usually located in the abdomen, but can also radiate back into the back. Intestinal cramps without diarrhea are often accompanied by constipation, and the color of the stool can also change. Flatulence is also an accompanying symptom. Other symptoms that are often associated with digestive tract discomfort are nausea and vomiting. Depending on the underlying cause of the symptoms, there may also be a fever and fatigue. The intestinal cramps can also spread to other parts of the digestive tract, causing stomach cramps, for example.

Treatment / therapy

The treatment of intestinal cramps without diarrhea depends on the cause of the symptoms. In many cases, the symptoms should be treated first. A sufficient amount of fluid is primarily important so that the intestine can work properly and there is no constipation in addition to the intestinal cramps. In addition, attention should be paid to the diet. First of all, it is important to eat rather gentle food so that the intestines can calm down a little. Anyone who suffers from food intolerance should also avoid the triggering foods. In the case of severe intestinal cramps, antispasmodic agents such as magnesium and Buscopan® can be taken temporarily. One should be more careful with pain relievers, as they may make the symptoms worse rather than improve. Anyone who suffers from a high fever in addition to the intestinal cramps can also take an antipyretic (attention, these remedies can also make intestinal cramps worse in some people). If necessary, additional medication must be taken for persistent intestinal cramps, but these must be prescribed by a treating doctor depending on the underlying illness.

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Fever is a very unspecific symptom. First of all, the increase in temperature suggests that processes are taking place in the body that the immune system wants to fight. Frequent triggers for this are pathogens that the body wants to kill with the high temperature. Other inflammatory reactions are also often associated with fever. Since there are normally a lot of bacteria in the intestine, intestinal cramps can quickly lead to a reaction of the immune system, so that symptoms such as fever occur in addition to the intestinal cramps.

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Vomiting is the body's protective mechanism by which unwanted substances are quickly and effectively removed from the body. A typical cause would therefore be spoiled food, for example. If not all of the food is vomited in the process, the remaining portions enter the intestine and cause intestinal cramps there. Irritation of the stomach or esophagus can also cause vomiting. Occasionally, food intolerances lead to spontaneous vomiting. Vomiting is usually associated with nausea and unspecific abdominal pain. Intestinal or stomach cramps can also be accompanying symptoms.

Stomach cramps

Stomach cramps occur as a symptom mostly in connection with food intake. For example, in the case of a stomach ulcer, stomach pain occurs immediately during or after eating. The disease is a defect in the protective mucous layer of the stomach, so that the strongly acidic gastric juice attacks the gastric mucosa. This can lead to stomach cramps. The injury to the mucous membrane leads to bleeding, so that blood may be vomited. If blood gets into the intestine with the chyme, it can also cause intestinal cramps there, and the stool can be dark to black in color due to the digested blood.

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The diagnosis of intestinal cramps without diarrhea is based on many individual steps. Since intestinal cramps can be a symptom of many illnesses, questioning the person concerned (anamnese) the first important part of diagnostics. This is followed by an examination in which the stomach is felt and listened to. Depending on the suspected underlying cause, imaging (ultrasound, x-ray, if necessary, if there is any uncertainty about the course, MRI or CT) should be performed. In addition, blood values ​​can be determined in the laboratory; these can, for example, provide information about inflammation in the body. A diagnosis can usually be made by looking at the symptoms and the findings.

Duration / forecast

The duration of the symptoms depends on the cause of the intestinal cramps. In many cases the symptoms last for a few days. With symptomatic treatment, the disease is usually completely healed after one to two weeks. However, if the intestinal cramps are based on chronic diseases, the disease can drag on for months or years. Most of the time, the symptoms are treatable, but they keep reappearing over time. Most of these diseases can be treated causally.

Course of disease

The course of the disease, like the prognosis, depends on the cause of the intestinal cramps. Most illnesses start suddenly, last a few days, and resolve within a week or two. The chronic diseases of the digestive system usually run in bursts, so that symptom-free intervals alternate with symptoms. Food intolerance usually persists for a lifetime, but if you do without the triggering foods, symptoms no longer occur.