GaryAR72 Asked :

I have been experiencing this severe burning sensation in my stomach every now and then which does not seem to be triggered by any foods or anything else that I have spotted. I had an endoscopy about two years ago when it first started and my doctor excluded ulcers and so on. It is not a constant stomach pain. Sometimes it comes just for a few hours or a day and then just becomes dull for a few days after that. It is sometimes not there at all.

The first doctor suspected gastritis and put me on medication for it. I cannot say whether it really helped or not because I did not use it for very long and at that time the episodes of the burning pain was far apart. More recently my doctor though it was acid reflux and wanted to put me on medication for it. I refused because I did not want to use medication unnecessarily based on the doctor’s hunch so instead I decided to try an antacid emulsion when I felt the pain. It did not really help either.

The burning stomach pain is in the middle part (slightly left) of the upper abdomen, almost under the ribcage sometimes. I don’t drink alcohol and I am very fussy eater so I avoid spicy and strange foods. I would say that my diet is quite well balanced but as I mentioned before, the foods don’t seem to make it better or worse. In all likelihood, it seems to be gastritis but nothing was diagnosed upon testing and I did not respond to the medicines.

I am worried that it could be something like stomach cancer which was too small to be detected at the time. When I get the pain, it can be very severe to the point that I am almost curling up in the fetal position and feeling nauseous. I am a 38 year old male, healthy and my only vice is smoking. Even if I do smoke more when I am stressed, the pain does not become worse or more frequent.


This question was posted under the What is Gastritis? Inflammation of the Stomach Lining article.

Any response by the Health Hype team does not constitute a medical consultation and the advice should be viewed purely as a guide. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment program. The information provided in this article is not an authoritative resource on the subject matter and solely intends to guide the reader based on the questions asked and information provided.


Dr. Chris Answered :

The upper GI endoscopy that you had previously may not have detected any abnormality because it may not have been evident at the time. It would be a good idea to have a repeat endoscopy. Gastritis and peptic ulcers do not develop overnight. Initially there is pain and discomfort or indigestion and the inflammation or ulcer may only become visible (via an endoscopy) a little while later. It is difficult to diagnose gastritis with an endoscopy if there is no evident redness of the stomach lining so this can easily be missed in the early stages.

The burning stomach pain that you are experiencing could be due to a host of causes. Gastritis with/without peptic ulcers or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease/acid reflux) would the more common conditions that could account for these painful episodes with nausea. Medication is necessary and it should be used long term. Antacids may offer some symptomatic relief, especially for heartburn, but is it is only a short term solution and should not be used as a means of diagnosing GERD or other gastric conditions.

Other possible causes could be due to gallstones (biliary colic) or even a hiatus hernia. The latter condition occurs when a small part of the upper portion of your stomach protrudes into the thoracic cavity through the diaphragmatic opening. The pain is not always present and can vary from a dull ache to severe pain. Pancreatitis could also be a possible cause but first you should exclude common conditions like gastritis, peptic ulcers and GERD.

You need to see your doctor again or visit a gastroenterologist. Another endoscopy would definitely be warranted at this point in time. Your doctor may also consider testing for H.pylori infection which is the most common cause of gastritis and petic ulcers. It is possible that this burning stomach pain is not related to the stomach or gastrointestinal tract but this can only be confirmed upon further testing. There is no reason to assume that you have stomach cancer just yet – first focus on more common conditions and wait for the results from the investigative procedures.


Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on June 19, 2010