Burning Sensation in Stomach
The stomach is an organ situated in the top left corner of the abdomen, under the rib cage. It helps the digestion of food by breaking it down with enzymes, acids, and other digestive juices secreted by varied glands occurring in the stomach lining. Any kind of damage to the stomach wall can result in burning sensation in stomach when that specific area comes into contact with the digestive juices. Such a burning sensation is typically limited to the upper abdominal region.
Causes of burning sensation in stomach
Some of the common causes and associated symptoms of burning sensation in stomach are listed below:
- Gastritis: It is one of the most common causes of burning sensation in stomach and is characterized by inflammation of the stomach wall. Patients may additionally experience swelling, nausea, and painful cramping. They may also feel abnormally satiated due to the burning sensation, which can cause lowered appetite.
- Food Allergy: The occurrence of burning sensation in stomach immediately after a meal may indicate some sort of food allergy. The stomach elicits discomfort due to the presence of some food items in the meal that the person is allergic to. Consumption of contaminated food can also cause burning sensation, which in turn can be the first sign of food poisoning. Other symptoms include vomiting, fever, and diarrhea.
- Infection by Bacteria: Presence of H. pylori bacteria can damage the stomach’s inner lining. People usually get exposed to this bacteria during childhood, and it can remain in the stomach for the rest of the patient’s life. The bacteria typically transfers via direct contact with a person carrying the infection. The bacteria usually does not cause any harm after getting into the stomach. However, when the conditions become more favorable, the bacteria can eat away at the stomach’s protective lining and cause inflammation and burning sensation in stomach.
- Gastroenteritis/Stomach Flu: It is an infection of the intestine by viruses and is characterized by its primary symptom of burning sensation in stomach.
- Nonulcer Dyspepsia: It is a disorder which arises due to indigestion, which in turn may be caused due to presence of undigested food like fatty or spicy food, as well as due to elevated stress. Patients may experience pain and inflammation, but diagnostic procedures do not detect any stomach ulcers.
- Stomach ulcers: It may refer to an open sore occurring on the stomach wall. When such sores get exposed to stomach acids then it can result in pain and burning sensation in stomach. As the stomach tends to become empty at night, the abnormal sensation deteriorates at that time.
- Intake of medications: Sustained use of some medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate pain can harm the stomach’s protective membrane and result in gastritis.
- Pre-existing medical conditions: Burning sensation in stomach can also be a symptom of varied medical conditions, including pernicious anemia, Crohn's disease, and gallbladder disorders, etc.
- Smoking and Alcohol or Substance abuse: These can either cause or worsen an underlying instance of gastritis and cause burning sensation in stomach.
- Radiation and Chemotherapy: Patients who undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer and other such conditions may often experience burning sensation in stomach after a treatment session.
- Elevated mental stress: Severe emotional or mental stress can activate a case of gastritis. A major surgery, abdominal trauma, or other conditions that cause physical stress can also cause burning sensation in stomach.
Treatment of burning sensation in stomach
Treatment of burning sensation in stomach is dependent on finding out the causative factors, and can include treatment of pre-existing conditions, drug therapy, and lifestyle changes.
Some of the common treatment options for burning sensation in stomach are listed below:
- Antacids: The first step of treatment involves reduction of stomach acid content. Doctors may prescribe antacids to control stomach acid production. In case they do not yield desired results, then acid blockers may be given. Doctors may also prescribe other medications to protect the stomach’s inner lining tissues.
- Pain relief medicines: Doctors may suggest a reduced dosage of painkiller drugs for patients currently using it; or they may opt for alternative pain killers which cause less damage to the stomach wall.
- Antibiotics: It is used to treat H. pylori infection of the stomach. Antibiotic therapy may sometimes be combined with use of proton pump inhibitors. The treatment continues over a course of many months, till the bacterial infection is fully eliminated.
Some of the self-care measures that can help alleviate, manage, and prevent burning sensation in sensation in stomach are as follows:
- Intake of coconut water, watermelon, and banana on a daily basis to get relief.
- Lifestyle changes such as abstaining or limiting alcohol intake, and quitting smoking.
- Drinking a warm cup of ginger tea, thyme tea, or chamomile tea can soothe the burning sensation in stomach.
- Buttermilk to assist the digestive processes; honey to ease acidity and ulcer problems; abdominal massage to lower accumulated gas; and yoga, meditation, and other relaxation techniques to reduce stress are also recommended.
- Eating small healthy balanced meals 4 to 5 times a day, as well as daily exercising also help in proper digestion of food and in quelling burning sensation in stomach.