Burning pain in the abdomen may have several causes, including a peptic ulcer or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). As such, it is advisable to consult a doctor for proper assessment and treatment.
The abdomen extends from below a person’s chest to the groin. It contains many different organs, including the stomach, pancreas, and gastrointestinal system.
A burning sensation may be present in the upper abdomen and esophagus due to acid reflux or when someone urinates due to kidney stones or an infection. Other conditions may also cause a burning pain at different times, such as while eating or having sex.
This article explores burning pain in the abdomen, its possible causes, symptoms, and treatments. It also explains when to contact a doctor.
GERD occurs when the stomach contents flow back into the esophagus, the tube that carries liquids and food from the mouth to the stomach.
The condition is common, affecting up to
spicy and fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine, citrus, and carbonated drinks
- losing weight, if necessary
- quitting smoking, if applicable
- elevating the head during sleep
Doctors may prescribe medication to people who do not respond to lifestyle modifications. This may include:
Doctors may recommend surgery for severe cases of GERD that do not respond to the above treatments.
Peptic ulcers are sores on the lining of the stomach or duodenum. People sometimes call them duodenal ulcers or peptic ulcer disease. Helicobacter pylori bacteria are the most common cause of peptic ulcers, which affect up to
- feeling full too soon while eating a meal
- feeling uncomfortably full after eating a meal
- nausea and vomiting
However, the NIDDK notes some people have no symptoms until an ulcer leads to complications, such as bleeding or a blockage in the stomach.
Doctors look at the cause of a peptic ulcer and may treat it with medications. Treatments
- PPIs or H2 blockers
- antibiotics or bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol) to treat H.pylori infection
- avoiding NSAIDs
- quitting smoking
Chronic pancreatitis is when inflammation permanently damages the pancreas and stops it from working correctly. The pancreas is a small organ behind the stomach that helps people digest food.
The condition is different from acute pancreatitis, which is a short-term condition.
According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), chronic pancreatitis causes a burning or shooting pain in the abdomen that comes and goes but may last for hours or days.
Depending on how long the condition has lasted, people may experience the following
- loss of appetite
- greasy, foul-smelling stools
- fatty stools (steatorrhea)
- weight loss
The damage to the pancreas is permanent, but healthcare professionals can help a person manage symptoms. Doctors may advise:
- stopping drinking alcohol
- quitting smoking
- pain-relieving medication
There may be several reasons someone can have burning pain in the abdomen, and a healthcare professional needs to assess symptoms to diagnose the cause.
People may feel or describe pain differently, so a healthcare professional must assess and diagnose conditions using a person’s symptoms and clinical investigations.
Someone with abdominal pain or burning sensations must discuss these symptoms with a healthcare professional.
A person should attend the emergency room if they experience sudden onset, severe abdominal pain.
Burning pain in the abdomen may be due to a peptic ulcer or GERD. Chronic pancreatitis also causes long-term abdominal symptoms, including burning pain.
Someone may feel burning pain lower in the abdomen or when urinating due to kidney stones or a UTI. Additionally, endometriosis or other gynecological conditions may cause burning pain.
A person must discuss their symptoms with a doctor, who may want to perform tests. Depending on the cause of abdominal burning pain, treatments may include lifestyle modifications, medication, or surgery.
People must attend the emergency room if abdominal pain comes on suddenly and is severe.