The sensation of having a burning stomach is no laughing matter. The pain, discomfort, fatigue and stress that stomach burning causes can make daily life miserable. Unfortunately, burning in the stomach is an all too common problem in today’s world because of indigestible food, health problems, infections, over use of antibiotics, chlorinated waters and the like. Stomach is a muscular sack located between the esophagus and the small intestine, where foods are broken down and enters the intestines for further digestion. If food doesn't get digested first in the stomach, the system will clog up. As a result, indigestion and heartburn occur.
What Causes Stomach Burning?
This is the inability of the body to digest milk or milk products. If you have lactose intolerance but accidently eat foods containing lactose, you can feel a burning sensation because the lactose disturbs and blocks your digestion. It is common among Asian and African descents, but anybody can develop it.
You can prevent it by simply avoiding dairy products. Be sure to check labels every time you purchase foods.
If you overeat or eat too quickly, you will experience indigestion. Some people who have trouble digesting certain kinds of foods, such as starches, grains (gluten), spicy foods and dairy products can lead to indigestion.
The good news is these can usually be avoided by eating small and frequent meals, spending more time on chewing the food and avoiding foods that makes you irritate.
This painful feeling can be caused by bacterial infections, overuse of pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen sodium (Aleve) and some health problems.
Ulcers can be eliminated through medical treatment and a healthy lifestyle. Contrary to popular belief, stress does not cause ulcers.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
This is a kind of chronic indigestion that occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus and the mouth. It usually occurs because the stomach is not properly breaking down food. Obesity, pregnancy, smoking and spicy, citrus, tomato-based foods can increase your risk.
Serious bacterial infections that can cause burning in the stomach include clostridium-difficile colitis (c. diff), Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), causing ulcers, and food-borne germs like E. coli. Such bacteria interfere with digestion by killing good bacteria necessary for digestion, causing inflammation and eroding the stomach tissue.
They can be treated with antibiotics and probiotics. A growing problem is antibiotic resistant bacteria that don’t respond to conventional medical treatment.
A hernia occurs when an organ or tissue is pushed through a weak spot in your muscles. Diarrhea, injuries, constipation, coughing, sneezing, lifting heavy objects, obesity and surgery scars can cause a stomach or hiatal hernia, which can be mistaken for a burning stomach. It can usually be cured by surgery.
This serious problem can be mistaken for stomach burning because it can cause nausea, constipation, vomiting and bloating.
The main symptom is intense pain that starts around the navel (belly button). It can be easily treated with surgery.
Pain that originates in your back below the ribs can be a kidney stone. It is a calcium deposit that blocks the kidneys. This dysfunction can cause wide impact on our body, including stomach burning. Other symptoms are frequent urination, bloody urine, vomiting, nausea and fever.
Ectopic pregnancy occurs outside the womb and often causes stomach burning and abdominal pain. It occurs in about 1 in 50 pregnancies and is more common in obese women who have had several pregnancies.
It is a life threatening condition that requires surgery and abortion. So if you are pregnant, you should do regular checkups; if there is anything worries you like burning in the stomach, contact your doctor.
There are many other causes that can lead to stomach burning. Some of the most common causes include eating too much fat, which is hard to digest, toxic chemicals, smoking, second hand smoking, exposure to air pollution, many kinds of drugs, including pain relievers and antibiotics, excessive mental stress and some kinds of medical treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
How to Deal With Stomach Burning
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Eating fiber rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables or cereals like oatmeal that can help because fiber speeds digestion and relieves constipation.
Eat probiotics such as yogurt every day to help restore the good bacteria that are necessary for digestion. And foods like honey, bananas, coconut milk, coconut water, and buttermilk can relieve indigestion. So try adding them to your diet.
Avoid processed foods, fatty foods, dairy products, baked goods, candy, soda pop, coffee and junk food that may cause indigestion. Stop eating any food that upsets your stomach, such as dairy products, spicy foods, starchy foods such as potatoes, baked goods, etc.
Overeating can cause indigestion. Try limiting portions, or eat four or five smaller meals a day instead of three. Not eating at work and changing meal times can help prevent stomach burning.
Some over-the-counter products, such as anti-acids which control acid buildup, and constipation treatments such as stool softeners, will provide short-term relief. But they should not be used on a long-term basis.
Painkillers can be used but you should be very careful with them because they can make the problem worse. Aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen sodium (Aleve) can interfere with digestion and cause stomach burning, so limit their use.
Antibiotics should only be used with a doctor’s prescription. Take them with a probiotic because antibiotics can kill good bacteria and cause indigestion.
Other Ways of Easing Stomach Burning
30- to 60-minute exercise a day can help prevent a burning stomach and sometimes moderate exercise can clear up the problem.
You can often eliminate indigestion by quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption and taking steps to reduce stress.
When to See a Doctor
You should seek medical help, if a burning stomach does not clear up after a few days or you feel a lot of pain. If pain becomes severe, you should call 911 or go to an emergency room because immediate treatment might be necessary.