How do you feel and what are you experiences after having a spicy delicious meal? How often does your stomach ache from spicy food? What are the other experiences you have after your stomach aches from spicy food?

Stomach ache from food can medically be grouped into a number of diseases ranging from mild irritation, gastritis to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). The number of causes, their remedies and how to tackle with these issues will be discussed in the article below.

Contents discussed in the article:


Causes of stomach ache from spicy food




When to see a doctor


Causes of stomach ache from spicy food:

  1. Gastritis: Gastritis as the term suggests is the inflammation of the lining of stomach and there are a number of factors that cause it. The causes can be attributed to infection, GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease), alcohol, medications, H.pylori, autoimmune idiseases, or stress (including physical stress- severe burns and injuries to brain included). It has a number of symptoms associated with it and which include:
  • Dyspepsia
  • Early satiety
  • Bloating 
  • Stomach ulcers.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss which cannot be attributed to any other reason.

If you are someone who is of older age group, you are at a risk of developing gastritis. This occurs because as you get older, you stomach lining thins down, you circulation decreases, and your metabolism slows down. Also, when you get older, you might be on medicines including NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. All these result in you being at a greater risk of getting gastritis.

Gastritis may be erosive (inflammation with erosions on your stomach lining) or non-erosive (only inflammation, no lesions or erosions).

Gastritis can be treated by dietary and lifestyle modifications, avoiding the triggers like medicines, alcohol, caffeine etc. In severe cases where H.pylori is the cause and eradication therapy can be performed and some antacids and proton pump inhibitors can be used and are effective.


  1. Gastric ulcers: Gastric ulcers can damage the gastric mucosa that extends beyond the muscularis mucosa layer into the sub mucosa. There are a number of causes for gastric ulcers and two important of them are: NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) drugs and helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) infection. There are a number of risk factors accompanying both of the causes that increase the probability of ulcers. The risk factors include:
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Caffeine
  • Diet
  • Genetic factors

There are some rare causes of gastric ulcers and include: Acid hypersecretory states like:

  1.  Zollinger- Ellison syndrome, systemic mastocytosis, etc.
  2. Non-NSAID medications: Acetaminophen, sirolimus, bisphonates.
  3. Infections: CMV, EBV, HSV-1
  4.  Other factors: Radiation, systemic inflammatory disease: Crohn’s disease,  foreign body etc.


If left untreated, this can lead to serious complications that may even be life-threatening.

These complications may include ulcer bleeding, perforation of stomach lining, gastric obstruction (happens when these erosions or lesions blocks food movement).

Treatment can be done by antacids, antibiotics, restricting diet like alcohol, caffeine, reducing stress, avoid eating before bed time etc.


  1. IBS (irritable bowel syndrome): IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a commonly experienced condition. It is when your brain does not synchronize with your gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), which leads to you feeling a set of symptoms, mainly stomach cramps and stomach ache.

IBS is a syndrome which is diagnosed based on a specific criterion called as ROME IV criteria.

ROME IV criteria include: Abdominal pain at least once in a week from past three months along with two or more symptoms from the below mentioned:  Pain related to defecation, change in stool frequency etc., change in stool appearance like loose stools, hard etc.

IBS includes a number of symptoms like: abdominal cramps, pain, nausea, reflux, early satiety, bloating, constipation, diarrhea or both. There are a number of triggers to IBS and include spicy food, stress, unhealthy and infections.  

Treatment is usually conservative and includes dietary and life style modifications and reducing stress but in some unmanaged cases anti-depressants and anti-spasmodic can be given.


  1.  Capsaicin: Capsaicin is a substance present in spicy food especially chile peppers, and may irritate the stomach lining when taken. When such food is taken it activates the pain receptors in the gastric lining, sending the message of pain to the brain. But it has been seen as well that the frequent consumption of chile peppers may improve gastric symptoms and in fact protect the stomach from acid by increasing the mucus secretion, inhibiting the acid protection and by increasing the blood flow to the stomach.


  1. Acid reflux: Acid reflux is the back flow of acid into the esophagus causing pain and irritation in the area. Acid reflux can cause erosions in the stomach and esophagus (as esophagus is not build to be protected from damage from this acid).

When this acid reflux occurs more than two times a week, it is known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (or simple GERD). In GERD, the sphincter between esophagus and stomach doesn’t close well.

 There are a number to acid reflux and it includes:

  • High fat meal
  • Late night meals
  • Taking a supine position after a meal
  • Spicy food
  • Fried food
  • Stress

There are certain risk factors, which when seen, may make you susceptible to GERD. These risk factors include obesity, if you are pregnant, smoker, taking meals at inappropriate time, alcohol consumption, or certain medication (like aspirin).

Treatment can be done by proper lifestyle modifications along with antacids medications, proton pump inhibitors etc.

Gastric ulcers should always be medically intervened, and should not be left untreated. If gastric ulcers are left untreated, it may lead to complications. Some of the complications include esophageal stricture (narrowing down of your esophagus- which may lead to inability to swallow), esophageal ulcer (this leads to severe pain and inability to swallow), and Barrett’s esophagus (these are precancerous changes of the esophagus).



Diagnosis can be made by basic history and physical examination. History involves asking about the nature of pain, its onset, alleviating and aggravating factors. Family history of ant disease relate to gastrointestinal system, acid reflux etc. Diagnosis leads to the diagnosis along with some brief physical examination.

Physical examination involves examining abdomen in particular and chest etc. In addition to physical examination and history, lab studies and imaging are of great help and imaging may include ultra-sonography, CT scan, endoscopy, colonoscopy etc. Some lab studies include CBC, stool sample, urine sample etc. All these can lead us to a diagnosis and then to treatment to relieve the patient of his suffering.



Before going to medical intervention, one should always look for home remedies, that is, if your pain is bearable and not severe enough to take you to a doctor. Try some home remedies, and lifestyle changes first. Drink more water, avoid lying down soon after you eat food, avoid alcohol consumption and smoking.

Treatment is diagnosis oriented and involves a number of methods. The best of all is the life style modification which involves reducing the tress, eating healthy food, avoiding spicy foods and over the counter medications.

Treatment may also involve taking ppi (proton pump inhibitors), antacids, some relieving syrups and gels etc. The best of all treatments is to avoid triggers like spicy food, stress etc. in addition to anatacids.



Prevention is always better than cure. Prevention includes: Avoiding the known triggers like spicy foods, medicines, tight clothes, most of all stress, and start taking short and small meals, to stay hydrated etc. Prevention can also be made by maintaining the sleep hygiene, avoid eating soft drinks, avoid taking a supine position immediately after eating meals. Prevention is seen better than treatment i.e., stop the process rather than taking medicines as prevention is effective and easy.



Usually, the cases of stomach ache from spicy food are benign and involves gastritis, IBS etc. but in cases where the pain is persistent, gastric reflux is getting worse or recurring after stopping medication, and is accompanied with severe other systemic symptoms in such cases you need see a medical professional as soon as possible.

These symptoms include: pain accompanied with bloody stools, extreme pain in abdomen with nausea and vomiting, diarrhea that has persisted for longer duration and you are not being able to tolerate food etc.

All these symptoms form a warning or red flag and must be followed and examined as soon as possible.



As delivered by the article above, stomach ache from spicy food is usually benign and includes the cases which can be corrected by making simple changes in lifestyle like maintaining sleep hygiene, avoid eating spicy food, avoiding stress and all other triggers and over the counter medications which can make a person susceptible to other gastric issues. It is always better to make such mini changes in one’s lifestyle than making oneself addict and dependent of certain drugs that may some of their own side effects in the course of long duration.



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Address: 393 University Avenue,Suite 200,Toronto ON MG5 2M2,CANADA


Phone: +1(647)303 0740

All Rights Reserved © By MarsoClinic

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