Many people suffer from burning stomach pain after eating. If you have pain that you'd describe as "burning," "gnawing" or "dull," you may suffer from a peptic ulcer, an extremely common condition that affects up to 10 percent of Americans during their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the website MayoClinic.com. You should see your physician for a proper diagnosis and to rule out other possible conditions, but you generally can treat or even cure peptic ulcers.
An infectious germ called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) causes most cases of peptic ulcers, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. H. pylori won't cause a peptic ulcer in everyone it infects, however.
Pain medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, also can cause peptic ulcers if you use too many of them. Women who are older than 60 and who have taken these pain medications for a long time are most likely to develop peptic ulcers because of them.
Burning stomach pain after eating may be your only symptom of peptic ulcer disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. This pain often develops about two or three hours after eating and persists for several hours. You'll often feel the pain at night and if you have an empty stomach. In some cases, people with peptic ulcers may feel nauseated or vomit. They may also lose weight or not feel as hungry as they normally would.
Your doctor may decide to diagnose your peptic ulcer through an endoscopy, which involves threading a tube down your throat to look at your stomach and potentially take samples of the lining, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders. If your diagnosis of peptic ulcer disease is correct, your physician likely will prescribe antibiotics to kill the H. pylori. You may also receive a prescription for medications called proton pump inhibitors, which decrease the amount of acid your stomach produces.
Antacids unfortunately won't help you relieve your burning stomach pain and drinking milk won't help much either, according to the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. But other lifestyle changes might help. Some people have reduced their symptoms by avoiding spicy food, reducing the amount of alcohol they drink or quitting smoking. If you use large amounts of pain medications, you may need to cut back or switch to a different type of medication. Your doctor can explain your options.
While your burning stomach pain after eating likely indicates that you have a peptic ulcer, you may actually suffer from another digestive-related condition, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Some of these conditions could be serious. That's why it's so important for you to see your doctor to obtain a proper diagnosis. If your pain increases or becomes sharper, if you vomit blood or if you develop black, tarry stools or blood in your stool, you should see your doctor immediately.