20 Causes of a Burning Stomach

Indigestion is a burning sensation in the stomach. It is a term used to describe a group of gastrointestinal symptoms rather than its own disease.

Also known as dyspepsia, indigestion affects 20% of the population. The collective symptoms that people can experience are burning pain in the upper abdomen, feeling full quickly after eating, and feeling uncomfortably full after eating.

This article will focus on the causes, treatments, and prevention of indigestion or stomach burning. It will also highlight the differences between indigestion and other gastrointestinal conditions.

Woman at a Desk With Stomach Pain

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20 Reasons Your Stomach May Burn

Stomach burning can be caused by food, medical conditions, medications, or for seemingly no reason at all. Not knowing what is causing stomach burn is actually very common. About 80% of people with indigestion never know the cause. This is called functional dyspepsia.

The other 20% who do have a defined cause could find their pain linked to:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Fatty or greasy food
  • Spicy food
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Eating too fast
  • Highly acidic foods like tomatoes and oranges

Medications that can cause stomach burning:

Medical conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract that can cause stomach burning include:

Related: What Is Indigestion?

Cause-Specific Treatment Options

Treating burning stomach pain is aimed at managing any underlying conditions and preventing future pain. The main treatment options are medications, diet changes, and psychological therapy.

Over-the-counter (OTC) antacid medications can treat indigestion. These medications neutralize stomach acids. Common antacids include Tums (calcium carbonate), Maalox (simethicone), and Alka-Seltzer (sodium bicarbonate). If indigestion doesn't get better after two weeks of treatment, it's time to contact a healthcare provider for prescription medication.

If an H. pylori infection is causing stomach burning, then a healthcare provider will likely prescribe two antibiotics to treat the infection. They might include:

Other medications that can treat burning stomach pain caused by indigestion include:

  • H2 blockers, which decrease the amount of acid the stomach makes
  • Proton pump inhibitors, which decrease the amount of acid in the stomach and are considered one of the most effective indigestion treatments
  • Prokinetics, which increases the stomach's emptying time

People with indigestion should avoid foods and drinks that make their symptoms worse. This includes carbonated beverages, alcohol, spicy and fatty foods, and caffeine.

If stress or anxiety is causing indigestion, then relaxation techniques should be implemented as part of a treatment plan. These techniques can include meditation, exercise, and talk therapy.

GERD vs. Indigestion

GERD and indigestion are interchangeable terms. Yet, they are two different conditions. GERD is a condition that results from stomach contents moving up the stomach into the esophagus. This can cause heartburn, which people generally feel in the chest and up into the mouth.

Indigestion is an umbrella term for several symptoms, one of which is heartburn. Medications that treat these two conditions are similar but can vary according to their underlying causes.

How to Prevent Burning Pain in Your Stomach

One way to prevent burning stomach pain is to make diet changes. Some foods and drinks can trigger indigestion. Take note of any foods that cause indigestion and avoid them. Foods and drinks that can cause indigestion are:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Spicy foods
  • Fatty and greasy foods
  • Foods with high acid content

Home Remedies

Treating indigestion at home with over-the-counter medications, diet, and lifestyle changes can make a big difference.

There are not many proven home remedies to treat indigestion. However, if the burning stomach pain comes on and there is no medication to be found at home, dissolve baking soda in at least 4 ounces of water. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, the same component found in some over-the-counter medications.

Related: Natural Remedies to Soothe Indigestion

Lifestyle Changes

Sometimes making simple lifestyle changes can help decrease the incidence of indigestion. Here is a list of changes to incorporate:

  • Wait two to three hours after eating before you lie down
  • Stop smoking
  • Minimize stress
  • Avoid NSAIDs when possible
  • Don't exercise immediately after eating
  • Fully chew food


When indigestion symptoms caused by GERD do not respond to conventional treatment, a healthcare provider may consider surgery. A Nissen fundoplication is described as the most common anti-reflux surgery.

This laparoscopic surgery involves wrapping part of the stomach (fundus) around the bottom of the esophagus. This makes it very difficult for stomach contents to move up the esophagus and cause pain.


A stomach-burning sensation, also called indigestion, is a term used to describe a group of gastrointestinal symptoms. There are several potential causes, including stress, food, medication, and medical conditions.

Lifestyle changes and avoiding certain foods and beverages can make a significant difference. There are also over-the-counter indigestion treatments like Tums and Maalox. For moderate to severe indigestion, surgery may be indicated.

A Word From Verywell

Indigestion is a common symptom that most people will experience at some point in their lives. Taking measures to prevent this burning sensation is really the best treatment. Avoid eating food and drinking beverages that cause pain and try not to eat too late at night.

If diet changes and lifestyle modifications aren't working, then it's time to talk to a healthcare provider. There are numerous medications available, and they will be able to help you find the right one for your situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When is a stomach burning sensation considered serious?

    When a burning stomach sensation does not go away after two weeks of over-the-counter treatment, then it's time to talk to a healthcare provider. They will be able to determine if there is an underlying condition causing the pain.

  • Is stomach burning a symptom of gastritis?

    Gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach lining, and burning pain is one of its symptoms. It can lead to ulcers and bleeding in the stomach.

  • Do antacids reduce stomach burning?

    Antacids reduce the acid level in the stomach and can reduce stomach burning. This is one of many different types of medications available for stomach burning, so if antacids don't work, there are other options that a healthcare provider can recommend.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. UpToDate. Approach to the adult with dyspepsia.

  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Indigestion (dyspepsia).

  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatment of indigestion.

  4. Clarrett DM, Hachem C. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)Mo Med. 2018;115(3):214-218.

  5. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Eating, diet, & nutrition for indigestion.

  6. MedlinePlus. Sodium bicarbonate.

  7. Medical College of Wisconsin. GERD surgery - laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication.

  8. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms & causes of gastritis & gastropathy.

By Patty Weasler, RN, BSN
Patty is a registered nurse with over a decade of experience in pediatric critical care. Her passion is writing health and wellness content that anyone can understand and use.