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Forget butterflies. The churning and cramping of a queasy stomach can feel more like the entire insect population taking up residence in you belly.

Any number of factors can cause stomach upset. At the top of the list is stress. "Stress not only tightens your abdominal muscles but also increases your stomach's acid production, explains Barbara Majeroni, M.D and assistant professor of family medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo.That is why you feel nauseated in stressful situations.

Of course, you can also get a queasy stomach from something that you have eaten. FOod that is improperly stored, cleaned, or prepared invariably picks up bacteria, syas Dr. Majeroni. In fact, just about any food, if mishandled, can attract troublesome bacteria. But red meat, eggs, and poultry are particularly susceptible. And when those bacteria get into your system, they can leave you with a mild case of food poisoing.

Even certain medications---particularly antidepressants--have stomach upset as a side effect. If you start a new prescription, you may be nauseated for a week or two until your body adjusts to the drug, says Dr. Majeroni.

Prescription--To soothe an unsettled stomach

No matter what its cause, stomach upset usually goes away on its own within 24 hours. Chewable antacids such as Tums and Extra Strength Rolaids and liquid antacis such as Mylanta and Extra Strength Maalox can speed relief along, says Dr. Majeroni. The following remedies can help as well.

Drink tea made from chamomile or peppermint three or four times a day until you feel better. Both herbs work gently to relieve digestive distress. You can buy the herbs in tea bag form in health food stores and some supermarkets, says Dr. Majeroni.

Take a 6C, 12C or 30C dose of the homeopathic remedy Ipecacuahna (or Ipecac) every 2 to 8 hours until you feel better (The notation 6C, 12C or 30C is standard measurement in homeopathy and refers to the remedy's potency, which is listed on the label). Which dosage you choose depends on the severity of the sympmtoms.If your symptoms do not improve within 24 hours of stop taking the remedy and talk to your doctor.

Sip warm ginger ale. Ginger ale stimulates the production of saliva, which in turn neutralizes stomach acids, says Dr. Majeroni. Taking frequent small sips can help prevent dehydration.

Chew a stick of gum for 30 minutes at the onest of stomach upset. Like ginger ale, chewing gum gets saliva flowing, says Bob Marks M.D. a GI doctor in private practice in Alabaster, Alabama. Avoid chewing gum that contains artifical sweeteners such as sorbitol or mannitol. These sweeteners have been known to have a laxative effect on some people.

To ease queasiness

When your stomach is doing more somersaults than the US gymnastic team, it takes a toll on your appetite. But you still need to eat--and the fact is that food may help you feel better. To stop your stomach from churning, Dr. Majeroni suggests these dietary strategies.

Eat small but frequent meals every three to four hours for the duration of your digestive distress. Your stomach can better tolerate and process mini-meals compared to the standard three minutes.

Stick with bland foods such as bananas, cereal, rick and chicken soup until your symptoms subside. These foods move smoothly through your digestive tract and help soothe a tumultuous tummy.

Snack on crackers or a slice of unbuttered bread. These foods absorb excessive stomach acid and relieve queasiness.

Avoid coffee, black tea, diet soda, and friend foods until you feel better. They all can cause your stomach to produce more acid, which worsens your discomfort, explains Dr. Majeroni.

Prescription-----for a tranquil tummy

Once your stomach settles down, you can take steps to stave off a recurrence of queasiness. For starters, give these tips a try.

Breath deeply for five minutes whenever you feel stressed. Sit in a straight-back chair and inhale slowly, feeling your lungs fill with air. Focus on your abdomen as it expands. Then exhale slowly, feeling your diaphragm relax. This exercise calms you down, which helps keep your stomach from churning, says Dr. Majeroni. It also gives you time to compose yourself so that you can deal with the stressful situatioin in a constructive, non-gut wrenching way.

Wear clothing with comfortable waistbands. Tight-fitting garments that cinch your waist put pressure one your stomach. When you eat, this pressure forces food to back up into your esophagu, leaving you nauseated, says Dr. Marks.

After a meal, wait at least two hours to lie down. This gives your stomach time to digest what you have eaten, explains Dr. Majeroni. Otherwise, stomach acid can easily slosh into your esophagus when you are in a horizontal position. You will end up feeling queasy. When you do lie down, lie on your left side rather than your right. Because stomach rests in the left side of the abdominal cavity, this position minimizes the chances of stomach acid backtracking into your esophagus says Dr. Majeroni.