The sensation of burning in the stomach area, whether it is a feeling of mild discomfort or pain, may be related to gastrointestinal causes, particularly of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). However, there are various other causes of pain or discomfort in this area that may not be related to the gut and this has to be excluded if there is no sign of gastrointestinal disease
Refer to Stomach Location for more information on the anatomical position of the stomach.
Pain is a sign of inflammation. With the stomach and neighboring structures (esophagus and duodenum), the presence of gastric acid often results in burning pain. In the stomach itself, compromised gastric mucosa defenses against the acid may also inflame the stomach lining.
Causes of Burning Stomach Pain, Sensation, Feeling
The most common causes of burning in the stomach area due to gastrointestinal causes includes :
The various pain in the stomach are discussed under gastric pain.
Other gastrointestinal causes may include :
- Stomach – hiatal hernia
- Small Intestine – blocked bowel (small intestine obstruction)
- Colon – constipation, blocked colon (large intestine obstruction), inflammatory bowel disease, IBS
- Pancreas – pancreatitis, cancer
- Liver – refer to liver pain
- Gallbladder – gallstones, cholescytitis
Causes that are unrelated to the gastrointestinal tract includes :
- Muscle pain – abdominal wall muscles
- Heart – refer to cardiac pain vs non-cardiac chest pain, angina and heart attack pain
- Lung – pneumonia (lower lobe), pleuritis (pleurisy)
- Spleen – enlargement, rupture, infarct
- Kidney – refer to kidney pain location and causes of kidney pain
- Adrenal gland – adenoma (benign tumor)
- Diaphragm – abscess
- Vertebra – vertebral collapse, nerve root compression
- Peritoneum – peritonitis
- Skin – shingles (herpes zoster)
Any of the above causes may be aggravated after eating, during exercise or occur with belching. The more common causes are discussed below.
- Peptic ulcers are generally relieved after eating but duodenal ulcer pain may aggravate after meals as a result of gastric acid exposure. This may also occur with esophageal ulcers especially if the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) is compromised.
- Biliary colic – pain in the gallbladder and/or duct as a result of gallstones.
Spicy foods, alcohol and NSAID’s tend to aggravate peptic ulcer pain while alcohol is a known exacerbating factor in biliary colic.
- Abdominal muscles
- Dyspepsia, GERD and gastritis – especially when exercising after eating.
- Hiatal hernia
- Food intolerance
- Refer to Causes of Excessive Burping
Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on October 11, 2010