Is This Burning Sensation an Ulcer?

Is a burning sensation in the upper stomach (much like heartburn) a symptom of a peptic ulcer?


Many people attribute "burning" in the upper stomach to excess acid. However, many other disorders can cause this sensation as well. Gallbladder disease typically causes right-sided pain, but it can also cause upper mid-abdominal pain that may be felt as a burning sensation. In addition, pancreatic disease usually begins with pain or burning in the upper abdomen, and then typically bores through to the back. Pain originating from the bile duct and upper small intestine (duodenum) can also occur in this spot. Keep in mind that even heart disease and angina may first appear as upper abdominal discomfort and burning.

Still, the most common cause of upper abdominal burning is disease of the stomach or esophagus. As you mention, ulcers in the stomach or duodenum will typically produce a burning feeling. Also, acid in the stomach can produce inflammation, known as gastritis, and the esophagus can be injured by acid that refluxes back up from the stomach, known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

It is important that anyone experiencing upper abdominal burning or symptoms of a stomach ulcer be evaluated by a physician. Although the diagnosis is usually not serious and can be treated with medication, it is important to rule out potentially life-threatening causes.