15 Ways To Settle An Upset Stomach

For the most part, having the occasional upset stomach is a normal and harmless condition that usually resolves fairly quickly. 

That doesn’t mean it isn’t unpleasant – which may lead you to wonder how you can settle an upset stomach quickly.

There are several options for settling an upset stomach, which we’ll review below.

What is an upset stomach?

An upset stomach, or “dyspepsia” in medical terms, occurs when you experience discomfort in your stomach/upper abdomen. 

There are many other words used to describe an upset stomach, such as feeling “queasy,” having a “sour stomach,” indigestion, and many others.

An upset stomach can be caused by several different things (we’ll cover that in the next section), which will determine which kind of symptoms you might experience.

Some of the symptoms of an upset stomach can include:

  • Cramping abdominal pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea, loose or liquid stools, or an increased number of stools
  • Headache or body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Chills, with or without fevers

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What causes an upset stomach?

Viruses or bacterial infections

Viral gastroenteritis (also called the stomach flu) causes an upset stomach due to a virus. It can be spread by an infected person or through contaminated food or water.

You can also get a bacterial infection that leads to an upset stomach; this is usually referred to as “food poisoning” and is most commonly caused by bacteria or viruses. 

Some examples of bacteria responsible for food poisoning are E. coli and salmonella, while viruses like norovirus can also cause food poisoning.

Peptic ulcer disease

Peptic ulcer disease occurs when a sore develops in the lining of your stomach, intestine, or esophagus. 

It can cause an upset stomach in the form of a burning sensation in your stomach, a feeling of fullness, nausea, heartburn, and bloating.

Peptic ulcers are most commonly caused by an infection from Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a type of bacteria, and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and naproxen.

Inflammatory bowel diseases 

When parts of your digestive tract become inflamed, it can cause an upset stomach. There are two types of inflammatory bowel diseases; Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Inflammatory bowel diseases are autoimmune disorders, which means your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy parts of your body, such as your digestive tract.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur consistently and usually include either diarrhea or constipation. 

Other telltale symptoms of IBS include stomach pain, bloating, and excessive flatulence (gas).


Colitis is the term for inflammation of your colon. It can either be autoimmune (such as the case of ulcerative colitis) or due to an infection from bacteria, viruses, or parasites.

Food allergy or sensitivity 

If you have a food allergy or sensitivity and you eat the problematic food, it can cause an upset stomach. Examples of food sensitivities are gluten intolerance and lactose intolerance. 

Food sensitivities are different from food allergies, which occur when you have an allergic reaction after eating a certain food.

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is rare (it impacts around 1% of the population in the United States) and occurs when your intestine becomes damaged when exposed to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. 

Symptoms of celiac disease can include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, and more.


Symptoms of indigestion include upper abdominal discomfort, bloating or gassiness, nausea, or feeling full quickly after you start eating. 

It can be caused by eating too fast, drinking too much caffeine, alcohol, or carbonated drinks, smoking, or eating greasy/spicy foods.

Heartburn can occur with or without indigestion, and its medical term is gastroesophageal reflux. Heartburn is a burning sensation in your upper chest from stomach acid coming up into your esophagus.

15 ways to settle an upset stomach

1) Ginger

Ginger is one of the most well-known remedies to settle an upset stomach. Consuming ginger might be especially helpful in relieving nausea and vomiting, which often accompany an upset stomach. 

Ginger is so popular for easing nausea that it’s one of the first things recommended to help ease morning sickness in pregnancy.

Studies on ginger for nausea and vomiting have shown that it can help alleviate symptoms, but more research is needed due to potential study design flaws.

You can choose ginger chews/candies or ginger ale to use as a home remedy to settle an upset stomach.

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2) Peppermint

Peppermint is another well-known natural remedy for treating an upset stomach. It has a soothing, numbing effect that might help with nausea, diarrhea, and increased gas.

Peppermint has an antispasmodic effect. That means it can help reduce excessive contractions of your digestive tract, which can worsen symptoms of nausea and diarrhea.

Drinking peppermint tea, sucking on peppermint candy, or inhaling peppermint oil are all ways to use peppermint to settle an upset stomach.

3-8) Over-the-counter medications

If natural remedies aren’t enough to treat your upset stomach at home, you might try over-the-counter medications used to alleviate your symptoms.

Some popular OTC options for an upset stomach include:

  • Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) – forms a protective barrier for your stomach lining to reduce stomach upset.
  • Mylanta (aluminum hydroxide/magnesium hydroxide/simethicone) – used to treat heartburn, acid reflux, and gas.
  • Tums (calcium carbonate) – an antacid used to treat reflux/heartburn to neutralize stomach acid.
  • Rolaids (calcium carbonate/magnesium hydroxide) – another antacid.
  • Imodium (Loperamide) – to treat diarrhea.
  • Pepcid (Famotidine) – used to treat stomach pain from indigestion or reflux/heartburn.

9) Carbonated beverages

Sipping clear, non-caffeinated carbonated beverages like 7-Up or Sprite is a popular home remedy to settle an upset stomach, especially if you’re having a hard time drinking enough fluids. 

The carbonation in these drinks can ease stomach upset for some people, but keep in mind that these are high in sugar.

10) Eating a bland diet

Eating a bland, easy-to-digest diet is recommended when you have an upset stomach. You’ll want to avoid eating foods that make your digestive system work hard to digest, which can worsen the symptoms of an upset stomach.

A commonly prescribed bland diet is called the BRAT diet, which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.

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11) Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)

If you don’t have any antacids on hand, you can dissolve some baking soda in warm water to achieve a similar effect. 

Sodium bicarbonate helps lower the acidity of your stomach acid, which might ease symptoms of an upset stomach like heartburn or indigestion.

12) Clear liquids

Sipping on diluted fruit juices (not citrus juices, which might worsen stomach pain due to their acidity) or sucking on popsicles can help provide hydration when your stomach is upset. 

It’s also a good idea not to let your stomach get too empty when it’s upset; an empty stomach can worsen symptoms in some cases.

Drinking clear broth can also help provide hydration and replenish lost sodium from excessive vomiting or diarrhea.

13) Licorice

Licorice root extract can be used to treat symptoms of an upset stomach, like heartburn and indigestion. 

Licorice is thought to help ease an upset stomach by increasing the protective mucus layer in your stomach, as well as boosting blood flow to your stomach to repair inflammation.

14) Aloe vera

Aloe vera isn’t just for treating sunburns! Aloe vera can be taken orally, and it might help reduce symptoms of an upset stomach by reducing inflammation in your stomach lining.

Be sure to choose aloe vera meant for consumption, not the gels meant for topical use on your skin.

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15) Rest

Sometimes, the best (and only) thing you can do for an upset stomach is to rest. This is especially true if you’re riding out a viral or bacterial stomach infection, which needs to run its course before you start to feel better.

If you’re experiencing severe symptoms from a stomach bug and aren’t able to eat or drink normally, be sure to stay home and rest to help your body fight the infection faster.

Things to avoid

The things you should avoid for an upset stomach depend on the cause of your upset stomach, as well as the symptoms.

You can see a summary of the major things to avoid for certain symptoms in this table below:

SymptomThings to avoid
DiarrheaCaffeine, fatty foods, high-fiber foods, carbonated beverages, and alcohol.
GasGas-forming foods like beans, cruciferous vegetables, and raw vegetables; eating a very high-fiber diet.
HeartburnFatty foods, spicy foods, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, mint, carbonated beverages.
Nausea/vomitingFatty foods, spicy foods, dairy products, and hot foods that give off strong odors.

In addition, here are some other tips on things to avoid for an upset stomach:

  • For food intolerances or chronic digestive issues, avoid trigger foods (foods that are known to cause an increase in symptoms).
  • Avoid eating large meals, and avoid drinking liquids at mealtimes to help reduce the pressure in your stomach.

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There are several home remedies that can help settle an upset stomach. Which treatment you choose will depend on your symptoms and the cause of your upset stomach.

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  1. Marx W, Kiss N, Isenring L. Is ginger beneficial for nausea and vomiting? An update of the literature. Curr Opin Support Palliat Care. 2015.
  2. Ernst, E., & Pittler, M. (2000, March). Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: A systematic review of randomized clinical trials. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 84(3), 367-371.
  3. Journal of Reproduction & Infertility: “Effect of Aromatherapy with Peppermint Oil on the Severity of Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: A Single-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled trial.
  4. Lane, B., Cannella, K., Bowen, C., Copelan, D., Nteff, G., Barnes, K., … Lawson, J. (2012, June). Examination of the effectiveness of peppermint aromatherapy on nausea in women post c-section. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 30(2), 90-104.
  5. University of Wisconsin-Madison, University Health Services: “Upset Stomach.”

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