Typically a sour stomach is quickly remedied and isn’t a need for concern. But if it becomes a regular thing, you may want to speak with a doctor.
A sour stomach is also sometimes called an upset stomach, stomach pain, or indigestion. It’s a feeling of pain, fullness, and unease in your stomach that happens after you eat.
A sour stomach can be a symptom of a digestive condition, but it’s often the result of temporary factors such as a large meal or stress. Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments are typically enough to treat occasionally sour stomachs, but chronic or repeated sour stomachs might need to be treated by a doctor.
A sour stomach can feel a little different for everyone. The primary symptom is a feeling of discomfort in your stomach. You might feel like your stomach is unsettled or churning.
Other common symptoms can include:
- abdominal pain
- acid reflux
- a burning sensation between the breastbone and belly button
- feeling very full
Symptoms of a sour stomach always occur after eating.
There are many reasons you might have a sour stomach. Often, a sour stomach is caused by temporary, one-time factors. For instance, it’s common to experience a sour stomach after eating a meal that is much larger or heavier than your typical meal. This happens because your stomach has to work extra hard to digest the meal.
Other causes of sour stomach can include:
- eating very quickly
- eating foods that are spicier than your normal diet
- disordered eating patterns
- having several carbonated, caffeinated, or alcoholic beverages
- eating large amounts of chocolate
- being under high amounts of stress
- certain medications, including iron supplements, pain relievers, and antibiotics
- digestive health conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastroparesis
- peptic ulcers
- thyroid conditions
- a food intolerance, such as celiac disease
- inflammation of the liver, gallbladder, or stomach
- stomach cancer
- an intestinal obstruction
- slow stomach emptying
- having too much stomach acid
Often, a sour stomach can be relieved with OTC antacid medications. These include Tums, Pepto-Bismol, and others. They work by neutralizing the acid in your stomach. They’re best for an occasional sour stomach.
Sometimes, people also find relief by drinking small sips of water. It can help with digestion, and it might dilute stomach acid. However, drinking too much water can increase symptoms.
It can be best to prevent sour stomachs before they occur. For many people, this means avoiding the factors that lead to a sour stomach. For instance, you can try:
- eating smaller meals
- limiting alcohol and caffeine
- identifying any food allergies
- avoiding certain pain relievers that can be hard on your stomach
- working on stress management
You can also try some natural remedies to help relieve your sour stomach. For instance, some people soothe a sour stomach with peppermint or ginger. You can also try adding probiotics to your diet to help regulate your digestive system. You can read more about foods to help treat a sour stomach in this article.
A sour stomach can often be resolved quickly, within an hour or so. However, there are times when a sour stomach is caused by an underlying digestive health condition. When this is true, it’s important to talk with a doctor.
If you find that you have a sour stomach frequently, or that you experience sour stomachs that aren’t helped by OTC medications. It’s best to make an appointment to see a healthcare professional.
Additionally, symptoms that can seem like a sour stomach at first can sometimes be warning signs of a serious health condition. If you have symptoms of a sour stomach and also experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
Warning signs include:
A sour stomach is an unpleasant sensation in your stomach after eating that is often temporary. A sour stomach can be caused by your recent meal, stress, or other easily resolvable factors.
However, it can also be the result of more serious underlying health conditions. Occasional sour stomach isn’t a cause for concern, but if you’re experiencing it regularly, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.