Burning in the stomach after you eat is a common but bothersome symptom that could indicate several gastrointestinal issues. It can also be just one symptom of an underlying problem, such as intolerance to certain goods, indigestion, or gastritis. While over-the-counter medications, avoiding heavy foods, and home remedies can relieve the pain, frequent or lasting episodes of stomach burning are not a good sign, and you should see a doctor. Understanding the underlying cause is essential for receiving adequate treatment for the burning sensation affecting your life. Schedule an appointment with board-certified and experienced gastroenterology doctors at Manhattan Gastroenterology for accurate diagnosis and best treatment options. The top-rated gastric specialists take a detailed look at your symptoms and help you seek quick relief. They investigate the causes behind your condition and ensure you do not have to suffer this pain again.

A burning sensation or pain in the stomach is often labeled as heartburn that occurs after consuming a meal. It is a feeling that the stomach or the lower chest is on fire. This burning pain may also be accompanied by other symptoms but not always. Burning in the stomach is often attributed to other health concerns or lifestyle choices as they can significantly impact your digestive and overall health.

This type of pain is usually a sign of gastritis, a common condition that can occur suddenly or gradually in response to specific triggers, such as foods and drinks, or during stress. Paying attention to what you eat and consulting your doctor can help determine if it is gastritis or some other problem causing the annoying symptoms.

What Is Gastritis?


Gastritis is a general term for a group of conditions that lead to inflammation, irritation, or erosion of the lining of your stomach. The stomach produces acid to break down the food you eat and kill any germs or bacteria present in it.

Stomach acid is corrosive, but there is a balance between the amount of acid you make and a natural, protective layer of mucous lining the stomach. The stomach lining is strong, and the acid meant for the digestive does not hurt it, but it can become inflamed and irritated if you are not careful and end up eating foods and drinks that damage it. This inflammation is often the result of infection with the same bacterium that causes most stomach ulcers or the regular use of certain pain relievers.

If there is an imbalance or an excessive amount of acid is produced due to any reason, you can develop gastritis. Gastritis is easily treatable. However, if it is not addressed timely, it can last a long time or may lead to a stomach ulcer or anemia.

Symptoms of Gastritis

Symptoms of gastritis vary from person to person, depending on the underlying causes, but some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Burning feeling in the stomach between meals or at night
  • Abdominal pain, especially in the upper abdomen just below the sternum or breastbone
  • Nausea or recurrent upset stomach
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Hiccups
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting blood
  • Black, tarry stools

What Foods Trigger Gastritis?

Contrary to what is commonly believed, gastritis is not caused by the food you eat or the type of diet you consume. Certain foods can worsen the stomach conditions, such as fatty, fried, spicy, and highly acidic foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes. Alcohol, coffee, and fruit juices can also trigger gastritis.

Reducing your intake of such foods or eliminating them from your diet can keep the symptoms away. Also, eating healthy foods and drinks can promote good digestive health and prevent gastritis.

Gastroenterologists recommend including the following in your diet for a trouble-free digestive system:

  • High-fiber foods – include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans
  • Low-fat foods – consist of fish, lean meats, and vegetables
  • Low-acidity foods – include vegetables and beans
  • Non-carbonated drinks
  • Caffeine-free drinks

The Helicobacter pylori bacteria is the most common cause of gastritis. Eating healthy, probiotic foods such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha can keep the digestive system functioning normally.

Health issues that can lead to gastritis include:

  • Infections caused by bacteria and viruses
  • Major surgery
  • Traumatic injury or burns

Initial signs of gastritis are feelings of burning in the stomach after eating. If antacids and a change in diet do not relieve your symptoms, seek medical assistance for diagnosis of the underlying cause behind your condition.

When to See a Doctor?

Call your doctor if your stomach discomfort lasts more than a few days or if home remedies and diet control fail to offer relief.

Seek immediate medical help if you experience other severe symptoms along with burning pain in the stomach, such as:

  • Black, bloody, or tarry stools
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • Severe vomiting or vomiting up blood
  • Feeling a mass in your stomach area
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever that accompanies your stomach pain
  • Swelling in your abdomen
  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • Pain that interferes with sleep

The doctor will perform a physical exam or even an abdominal x-ray if needed and ask you about the symptoms you have been experiencing. In some cases, a breath or stool test is typically used to diagnose the presence of H. pylori infection.

In some cases, doctors recommend endoscopy. It is a non-invasive procedure to look inside your stomach, with the help of a tube that has a tiny camera attached to it, to find the causes behind the burning in your stomach.

How to Prevent Stomach Burning After Eating

If your stomach burning is related to what you have been eating or your lifestyle, some changes to your diet and lifestyle can make a difference. It would be best if you considered the following options to prevent stomach pain:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption
  • Reducing stress levels
  • Avoiding foods that irritate your stomach
  • Avoiding eating right before going to bed if you suffer from acid reflux
  • Not eating right before bedtime if you have acid reflux
  • Keeping your head elevated while sleeping to reduce nighttime symptoms
  • Chewing your food very well
  • Avoiding medications that worsen symptoms
  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

If your symptoms and stomach burning persist despite making the right moves, follow up with a gastroenterologist to discover the underlying issue and prevent further pain and discomfort.

Other Causes of Stomach Burn

Several other factors can cause a burning stomach. They include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) Medications
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ulcers
  • Dyspepsia or an upset stomach
  • Acid reflux or GERD
  • Hernia
  • Stomach cancer

These factors can lead to complications if you are not careful and address them timely. Seek medical attention if you notice unusual or persistent symptoms for quick treatment.

How Is Gastritis Treated?

The good news is that gastritis can be treated, and you can start feeling better once the doctor diagnoses your condition accurately. Resolving the underlying problem or cause is the first step toward treatment.

Treatments include:

  • Antibiotic medications to kill H. pylori
  • Medications that block acid production and promote healing
  • Medications to reduce acid production
  • Medications that neutralize stomach acid

These medications will heal the stomach lining and ease your symptoms. If pernicious anemia is the reason behind stomach burning, the doctor may give you a B12 vitamin shot.

Occasional burning in the stomach does not require a trip to the emergency room as it may result from something you ate or an unsettled stomach. Finding the causes and addressing them can make you feel better. However, this burning sensation can often result from a chronic condition or reaction to something. The gastroenterologists at Manhattan Gastroenterology are experts in their field and help you seek relief by determining the reasons behind your pain. The renowned specialists use advanced technological tools and diagnostic methods to learn more about your condition. They come up with the most suitable treatment options based on your symptoms and the level of burning you are experiencing to enhance your quality of life.

Updated on Sep 1, 2023 by Dr. Shawn Khodadadian (Gastroenterologist) of Manhattan Gastroenterology