Stomach Discomfort Causes and Symptoms

Stomach discomfort may vary in sensation. Sometimes it is just mild discomfort or a minor stomach ache, while at other times, it can intensify to the point of severe gastric pain. Diagnosing the cause of stomach discomfort depends on how often it occurs, whether it is intermittent or persistent, trigger factors, and concomitant signs and symptoms like nausea, vomiting, regurgitation, belching, bloating and even changes in bowel movement.

Causes of Stomach Discomfort

Most causes of stomach discomfort tend to exacerbate after eating.

Acid Reflux

  • This is a result of the acidic stomach contents rising up into the esophagus.
  • Symptoms include heartburn (burning chest pain), nausea, regurgitation, water brash and throat irritation.
  • Acid reflux tends to occur after eating, especially after large meals (overeating), exercising after eating, lying flat or consuming alcohol.
  • Chronic cases are known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and arises due to various other causes, the most common of which is a dysfunction of the LES (lower esophageal sphincter).


  • Gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach lining, most often due to H.pylori infection or the use of NSAIDs.
  • Discomfort may vary from a stomach ache to severe pain and tends to worsen on an empty stomach or after eating. It is often described as a burning or gnawing stomach pain.
  • Nausea, vomiting, belching, bloating and a loss of appetite are other common symptoms.

Peptic Ulcer

Stomach Gas

Gastric Outlet Obstruction

  • The outflow of the stomach contents into the duodenum is hampered as a result of conditions like pyloric stenosis, stomach polyps or stomach cancer.
  • Pain is usually in the upper middle abdominal area and is severe, especially after eating.
  • Delayed gastric emptying may result in stomach bloating, upper abdominal distension, nausea, projectile vomiting and heartburn.

Hiatal Hernia

  • In a hiatal hernia, a portion of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragmatic opening.
  • Although it may go unnoticed for long periods of time, larger hernias may cause heartburn, chest pain, nausea and excessive belching. The symptoms tend to aggravate after eating.

Functional Disorders

  • These are disorders that cause a range of gastrointestinal symptoms when other possible causes are ruled out.
  • Non-ulcer dyspepsia (indigestion) and irritable bowel syndrome are two functional gut disorders. Although irritable bowel syndrome is associated with changes in bowel movement, stomach discomfort may also be present.
  • Symptoms include stomach bloating, abdominal distension, nausea with/without vomiting, abdominal pain and excessive belching.

Other Causes

Other causes of stomach discomfort may be related to the organs and structures surrounding the stomach. This includes :

Please note that any information or feedback on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a health care professional and will not constitute a medical diagnosis. By using this website and the comment service you agree to abide by the comment terms and conditions as outlined on this page