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What is stomach heat?

Excessive production of heat inside the stomach as the result of a faster digestive process is called stomach heat. It is usually characterized by bad breath and swollen gums.

What causes stomach heat?

There is no typical cause of a raised stomach temperature. This is because the heat tolerance level and basal metabolic rate (BMR) is different for each individual.

Some common causes of stomach heat related to the digestive system include:

  • Spicy food
  • Overeating
  • Late night meals
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • GERD - gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Peptic ulcer disease - gastric ulcer or duodenal ulcer
  • Delayed gastric emptying - passing stools after 2, 3 days
  • Taking too many painkillers (NSAIDs)
  • Overuse of broad spectrum antibiotics

While digestive disorders cancause a raised stomach temperature, other systemtic disorders can lead to the same problem. Some disorders that may raise the stomach temperature include:

  • Thyrotoxicosis: Hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis is an endocrine disorder that is characterized by abnormally raised levels of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones play an important role in the proper functioning of the body. Deranged thyroid hormone levels can cause various symptoms, including those related to the digestive system. Raised thyroid hormone levels also cause stomach heat because this increases the basal metabolic rate (BMR).

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS): MS is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord (SC). MS is also known to cause heat intolerance. This is why patients who complain of raised stomach heat are tested for multiple sclerosis too.

Diagnosis - How to find the cause?

Whenever a patient complains of stomach heat, the doctor performs a full physical examination. Palpation of abdominal organs is performed to see if any organs are swollen (organomegaly).

A trial of antacids (acid lowering agents), H2 receptor blockers, and PPIs are given to see if the symptoms resolve. The symptoms usually resolve after changing the eating habits and using some drugs. However, there are cases when the symptoms persist. In such cases the following tests are performed:

  • Ultrasound abdomen
  • Chest x-ray
  • Thyroid hormone levels - T3, T3, and TSH
  • 24-hour Gastric acid PH monitoring
  • CT scan MRI to rule out Multiple Sclerosis

Treatment of stomach heat

If there is no systemic disease involved, the goal of the treatment is to decrease the stomach acid levels. The stomach heat will spontaneously decrease as soon as the stomach acid reaches normal levels.

Home remedies can be extremely effective. However, medical treatment may be needed if the problem persists.

Home remedies for decreasing stomach heat:

  • Drink a glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning
  • Take 5 to 6 small meals
  • Eat a lot of non-citrus fruits - apple, banana, watermelon, etc.
  • Eat yogurt for immediate relief
  • Avoid overeating
  • Avoid fast food
  • Avoid spicy food

Medical treatment for decreasing stomach heat:

  • Antacids - sucralfate
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
  • H2 receptor blockers

If the symptoms do not fade away with home remedies, it is better to visit your doctor rather than trying medical treatment at home.

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