People who experience a “burning sensation” in the lower abdomen may have a condition of the urological, gynecological, or digestive system.
Causes of a burning sensation in the lower abdomen may include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease (PUD), kidney stones, certain gynecological conditions, and cancer.
People should note that a burning sensation in the lower abdomen is not common. It is more common in the upper abdomen, where the pain is usually associated with GERD or PUD.
A burning sensation in the lower abdomen often comes with urination, which means that it may be a urinary tract infection (UTI). However, a UTI may not present with any abdominal pain. For females, there are multiple gynecological conditions associated with lower abdominal pain that might feel similar to burning.
There are other conditions that could be associated with a burning sensation in the lower abdomen. People should talk with a doctor about their symptoms.
Keep reading to learn more about the possible causes of a burning sensation in the lower abdomen, including any associated symptoms and how to treat them.
A burning sensation in the abdomen may be a symptom of GERD, which is a chronic condition affecting the digestive system. It is one of the
Doctors can identify certain risk factors for developing GERD. For example, some people have motor anomalies that affect the movements of the esophagus. This can affect the ability of the esophagus to clear its contents.
Another possible risk factor is dysfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter, which can allow acidic stomach contents to rise up through the esophagus.
Aside from a burning sensation in the abdomen, people with GERD
- chest pain
- dental erosions
- chronic cough
Doctors may recommend several strategies to treat GERD, including certain lifestyle changes, medications, surgery, and endoluminal therapy.
They may first recommend the following self-care strategies:
- losing weight (for people with overweight or obesity)
- not eating 3 hours before lying down
- elevating the head end of the bed
- stopping smoking (or not starting)
- not wearing tight clothing that puts pressure on the abdomen
It may also help to avoid the following potential trigger items, though the research into the effectiveness of avoiding them is limited:
- spicy foods
- citrus fruits
- fatty foods
- carbonated beverages
Instead, a doctor may simply advise a person to avoid foods and beverages that they know worsen their symptoms.
For people with severe symptoms that do not respond to the above self-care strategies or medications, surgery or endoluminal therapy may be necessary.
People with PUD may also experience a burning sensation in the abdomen.
Doctors will diagnose PUD when the inner lining of the stomach, small intestine, or lower esophagus becomes compromised by stomach acid secretions or pepsin. This is an enzyme that breaks down protein.
Doctors have identified
- Helicobacter pylori infection
- use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- use of other medications, such as corticosteroids, bisphosphonates, potassium chloride, steroids, or fluorouracil
Smoking may also play a role in intestinal ulcers, while alcohol consumption can irritate the stomach and promote gastric acid release into the stomach.
People with PUD experience upper abdominal pain, right below the ribs, about 15–30 minutes after eating a meal. If the person has an ulcer in the small intestine, the pain may only begin 2–3 hours after a meal.
Some other signs and symptoms of PUD include:
- abdominal fullness
- nausea and vomiting
- weight loss or weight gain
- vomiting blood
- blood in the stool
- unintentional weight loss
- progressive difficulty swallowing
- bleeding in the digestive tract
- iron deficiency anemia
- recurrent vomiting
- a family history of upper gastrointestinal tumors
If a person tests positive for H. pylori infection, they may require antibiotics. The treatment for H. pylori infection includes two antibiotics and a PPI. People whose conditions do not respond to this protocol may require a quadruple therapy with bismuth and different antibiotics.
If possible, some doctors may recommend that people stop taking medications that contribute to PUD. However, people should not stop taking any medications without first seeking the advice of a doctor.
People with refractory disease that does not respond to medication may require surgery.
People develop kidney stones when a crystal, usually comprising calcium, travels from the kidney through the urinary tract. Kidney stones do not always cause problems and health complications, but some can get stuck and lead to medical issues.
- a personal history of kidney stones
- a family history of kidney stones
- increased absorption of oxalate through the intestine
- low fluid intake
- a history of diabetes, obesity, gout, or hypertension
- acidic urine
People with kidney stones may not experience any symptoms. The most
Some individuals may feel nauseous or vomit because of the pain. Blood in the urine is also common. Some people may also report a burning sensation when urinating.
Tamsulosin is a drug that helps people pass kidney stones; it reduces the stimulation of the smooth muscle in the urethra.
If a doctor finds a kidney stone that is 6 millimeters or larger, they may need to intervene to manually remove it from the urinary tract.
UTIs are bacterial infections of the urinary bladder.
The most common bacteria that cause UTIs include:
- Escherichia coli
- Proteus mirabilis
- Klebsiella pneumoniae
- Staphylococcus saprophyticus
People with a UTI
- painful urination or a burning sensation while urinating
- frequent urination
- pain or tenderness below the belly button
- blood in the urine
People who are very young or old may experience subtle or unusual symptoms. For example, older adults with a UTI may present with confusion or an altered mental state.
The symptoms of a complicated UTI are usually similar to those of an uncomplicated UTI.
Doctors treat UTIs with antibiotics. To select the most appropriate antibiotic to treat the infection, the doctor will consider the person’s risk factors for infection with a pathogen that is resistant to multiple drugs.
People with a low risk may receive a
Different gynecological conditions can cause pain in the lower abdomen that might feel like a burning sensation. These conditions may include:
- a ruptured cyst
- painful menstruation
- pelvic inflammatory disease
During ovulation, a fluid filled sac, or cyst, may form on an ovary. Most are benign, but they
Painful menstruation, or dysmenorrhea, refers to pain during menstruation without a disease of the pelvis. Sometimes, other conditions can cause painful periods.
The following table lists some of the symptoms associated with ruptured cysts, painful menstruation, and endometriosis.
|Ruptured cysts||Painful menstruation||Endometriosis|
|Symptoms||sudden pelvic pain|
blood loss or hemorrhage
|lower abdominal or pelvic pain|
pain radiating to the back or legs
nausea or vomiting
|lower abdominal pain and cramps|
pain or burning during sex
lower abdominal pain
Depending on the diagnosis of a burning sensation in the lower abdomen with a gynecological cause, a doctor will select the most appropriate treatment.
The following table lists some treatment options for causes of a burning sensation in the lower abdomen.
|Ruptured cysts||Painful menstruation||Endometriosis|
pain relief medications
pain relief medications
Certain cancers of the digestive, urological, and gynecological tracts may present with pain in the lower abdomen.
Depending on the type of cancer, people may experience different symptoms. However, the condition may also go unnoticed.
Although cancer is more common in older adults, anyone with troubling symptoms should arrange an evaluation by a doctor.
|Cancer of the digestive tract||Cancer of the urological tract||Cancer of the gynecological tract|
black and tarry stool
red stool with visible blood
fatigue and weakness
abdominal swelling or mass
loss of appetite
|blood in the urine|
difficulty or pain when urinating
|unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge|
pelvic pressure or pain
abdominal or back pain
itching, burning, pain, or tenderness of the vulva
a change in the color of the skin around the vulva
Different types of cancer require different treatments. These may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Surgery aims to remove the cancer tissue, whereas chemotherapy and radiation therapy use medications or high energy rays to kill cancer cells.
Doctors may select a treatment based on the cancer’s location and stage. Sometimes, people may require a combination of treatments.
People with digestive cancers may also receive targeted therapies and immunotherapy.
People who experience a burning sensation in the lower abdomen may have a digestive, gynecological, or urological condition.
By investigating the other associated symptoms and the person’s medical history, doctors can diagnose a burning sensation in the lower abdomen and choose the most appropriate treatment option for it.
A doctor may also consider some other abdominal conditions, especially in older adults. These may include cancers of the gastrointestinal, gynecological, or urological systems.
Be sure to contact a doctor for a complete evaluation to determine the correct diagnosis and receive the appropriate treatment.