The stomach is an enclosed space or pocket which is located in the left corner of the upper abdomen, below the rib cage. It breaks down food into smaller pieces and thus helps digest the food. For this purpose, it takes the help of different digestive juices which consist of enzymes and acids secreted by various glands present in the stomach wall. If there is any damage in the inner lining of your stomach, then you feel a burning sensation when the damaged part is exposed to digestive juices. The sensation is mostly confined to the upper portion of the abdomen.
CausesBurning stomach is often caused due to inflammation of the stomach lining. Medically, it is referred to as gastritis. It is accompanied by nausea, swelling and painful cramps. Due to the burning feeling, people often get a sense of fullness, which results in loss of appetite. The common conditions that give rise to this stomach problem are as follows.
- Bacterial Infection: A type of bacteria named H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) can cause harm to the inner lining of the stomach. It has been found that people are mostly affected by this bacteria in their childhood, and it may stay in their stomach all through their life. It is basically transmitted from one person to another through direct physical contact. After entering the stomach, it stays on the protective lining without causing any harm. When it gets favorable conditions, the bacteria erodes off the lining tissue of the stomach and causes inflammation.
- Food allergy: If you get the burning sensation soon after eating, then the problem may be with the food that you have consumed. Those who are allergic to some food may experience this kind of stomach discomfort after consumption of a particular food that they are allergic to. Others may get it after eating contaminated food. In other words, it can be an early sign of food poisoning. Here, the stomach burning pain is followed by other symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, fever, etc.
- Stomach Flu: Gastroenteritis or stomach flu is caused due to a viral infection in the intestine. A burning sensation is one of the symptoms of this infection.
- Stomach Ulcers: Stomach ulcers may be open sore which are found in the inner lining of the stomach. They may cause pain and a burning sensation after coming in contact with the stomach acid. The burning sensation may be severe at night as the stomach usually gets empty at that period of time.
- Nonulcer Dyspepsia: This condition is caused due to indigestion. One may feel the inflammation and pain, but tests show no ulcers. This is either caused due to stress or undigested food such as spicy or fatty food.
- Drugs and Medications: Prolonged use of certain medicines like anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain often tear down the protective membrane of the stomach and lead to gastritis.
- Excessive Intake of Alcohol and Smoking: Other substances that can aggravate this problem are excessive intake of alcohol, smoking or substance abuse.
- Underlying Health Problems: This can be a symptom of a number of underlying health problems such as Crohn's disease, pernicious anemia, gallbladder diseases, and so on.
- Severe Mental Stress: Mental or emotional stress can act as a trigger to this problem. Physically stressful conditions such as trauma or any major surgery can cause burning pain in the stomach too.
- Chemotherapy and Radiation Sessions: Sometimes, patients suffering from cancer experience a burning sensation in their stomach after undergoing treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.
TreatmentThis condition is mainly diagnosed by studying the medical history of the patient. Sometimes, blood tests and X-rays are carried out to determine the underlying cause. Treatment includes medications, change in lifestyle, or treatment of any underlying diseases. Prompt treatment reduces the risk of formation of ulcers to a great extent.
- Antacids: Firstly, the main aim of the treatment is to control the acid formation inside the stomach. In the initial stage, antacids -- either in the tablet or liquid form -- are administered to the patients. If it is not effective, then acid blockers are given which reduce the secretion of acid in the stomach. There are other medicines which are prescribed to protect the lining tissues of the stomach.
- Antibiotics: In case the burning sensation occurs due to H. pylori infection, then it has to be treated with the help of antibiotics. It is often combined with other medicines like proton pump inhibitor. This treatment may have to be continued for a long time till the bacteria is eliminated from the body.
- Pain Relieving Options: Those who take pain relieving medicines on a regular basis are advised to minimize its use. If required, they can discuss alternative pain relieving options with their concerned doctor.
Self Care MeasuresThere are few self care measure which may help you to get relief from any stomach problems or may even prevent any such health conditions. Following are some of them.
- A change in lifestyle includes limited intake of alcohol. Of course, it is better if you can avoid drinking alcohol altogether as it aggravates the inflammation of the stomach further. Smoking causes damage to the lining of the stomach. So, it is essential to quit smoking in such a condition.
- Banana, watermelon, coconut water, etc., soothe the burning sensation. So, try to have either of them everyday.
- A hot cup of thyme tea may help relieve the pain. Add 1 tablespoon of dried thyme in a cup of boiling water. Leave it for 10 minutes, strain out and drink. Ginger tea and chamomile tea may also help.
- Honey is very beneficial in case of ulcers and acidity problems. Mix and consume 1 teaspoon of honey and a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon everyday. This will be very helpful.
- You can have a glass of buttermilk twice a day as it eases the burning sensation and the pain that comes with it. It even helps in the digestion process.
- If the burning sensation is because of the build up of gas, then just massage your stomach between the belly button and breastbone. This will help release the gas.
- Eat in small quantities and increase the number of meals per day. Don't skip your meals.One should ideally consume only easily digestible foods if one is suffering from this problem. Spicy foods, fatty foods, carbonated beverages and caffeine should be avoided, as they may trigger stomach irritation.
- As stress may trigger stomach irritation, relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga may help to relieve the stress.
- Regular exercise or any physical activity for at least 30 to 40 minutes will keep you fit and free from such problems.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.