Digestion of food is a complex process that involves breaking down the food into substances that can be easily absorbed by the body. The process of digestion starts with the mastication of food in the mouth. The ingested food is then carried by the esophagus into the stomach. The stomach, which is a sac-like organ located between the esophagus and the duodenum, stores the food and also breaks it down further with the help of the digestive enzymes secreted by its lining. The stomach wall moves in wave-like muscular contractions in order to churn the ingested food into a liquid mixture called chyme. This liquid mixture is then propelled into the small intestine. The muscular contractions take place in the small intestine as well. It is within the small intestine that the process of digestion gets completed. While the nutrients get assimilated, the wastes are excreted out. Pressure in the upper stomach, bloating or abdominal discomfort may be experienced when the organs of the digestive system are unable to perform their functions.
What Causes Pressure in the Upper Section of the Stomach
Pressure in upper stomach region may be attributed to slowing of metabolism, which in turn, may be caused due to unhealthy eating habits. Various other poor lifestyle choices can also make one susceptible to digestive disorders.
Gassy Stomach: One of the most common causes of pressure in the upper part of the stomach is buildup of gas. Having heavy meals or leading a sedentary lifestyle are the common reasons behind the buildup of gas. Those who don't chew their food properly or have a habit of rushing down their meals are also more likely to experience abdominal discomfort. Excessive consumption of processed foods, carbonated beverages or foods that cause gas could also make one more vulnerable to indigestion or dyspepsia.
Inflammation of Stomach Lining: Gastritis, which refers to the inflammation of the lining of the stomach, is another condition that may cause discomfort in the abdominal region. Alcohol abuse, prolonged use of certain drugs or pathogenic infections could be responsible for causing inflammation of the stomach lining or the entire gastrointestinal tract. At times, discomfort in the upper abdominal region may be attributed to the development of ulcers in the lining of the stomach. Development of stomach ulcers may occur when the inflamed or eroded stomach lining comes into contact with the hydrochloric acid or a digestive enzyme called pepsin. An infection caused by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori or use of certain drugs for long periods of time could also make one more vulnerable to stomach ulcers.
Gallstones: Pressure and/or pain in the upper stomach could also be attributed to the formation of gallstones. Gallstones are hard stone-like deposits that could form in the gallbladder or even the bile ducts. These hardened stone-like deposits form when bile becomes highly concentrated with cholesterol or bilirubin. Those who often experience frequent episodes of pressure in upper stomach along with pain, bloating or belching especially after meals, must get themselves checked for this gallbladder disease.
Acid Reflux Disease: Bloating, belching, pain, acid taste in mouth and burning sensation in the chest are the common symptoms of acid reflux disease. This condition is associated with the regurgitation or back flow of stomach acid into the esophagus due to the weakening of a esophageal sphincter valve. This valve opens in order to propel the food into the stomach and closes in order to prevent the contents of the stomach from flowing back into the esophagus. Hiatal hernia, inflammation of esophagus or obesity can make one more vulnerable to this condition. Hiatal hernia is a condition wherein a part of the stomach protrudes into the chest from an opening in the diaphragm. If hiatal hernia is the underlying cause of acid reflux, one may also experience upper stomach pressure along with the other symptoms.
Besides the aforementioned conditions, pain or pressure in the upper abdominal region could occur as a result of food intolerance, pancreatitis, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, intestinal obstruction or liver disease. Since abdominal discomfort could be caused due to a wide range of reasons, it's important to identify the underlying cause of the abdominal discomfort. While buildup of gas, indigestion or constipation can be treated by making certain changes to your diet, other conditions may need elaborate treatment. Since stress, smoking, alcohol abuse and consumption of processed foods can affect one's digestive health adversely, there's a great need to make the right lifestyle choices.