Indigestion is the term used to describe chest or abdominal discomfort following meals. The medical term is dyspepsia. Almost everyone will experience indigestion at one time or another. Some people have it every day, while others may have it occasionally.
FREQUENT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Upper abdominal discomfort.
Gas or belching.
Bloated or full feeling.
Stomach may feel full soon after starting a meal.
Acidy taste in the mouth.
There may be excess stomach acid produced, problems with motility (movement of food through the digestive system), irritation of the stomach lining, or an increase in gas. A bacterial infection with Helicobacter pylori may also be involved. A number of risk factors are known to lead to indigestion.
RISK INCREASES WITH
Eating too much and eating too quickly.
Eating food with a high fat content.
Poor digestion of gas-forming foods, such as beans, cucumbers, cabbage, turnips, and onions.
Drinking too much alcohol.
Stress or anxiety.
Some drugs can irritate the stomach lining. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (such as aspirin or ibuprofen), iron supplements, antibiotics, and others.
Swallowing too much air when chewing.
Exercising right after eating.
Follow guidelines listed under Treatment.
Avoid risk factors where possible.
Indigestion is very common and is usually nothing to worry about. Symptoms can be controlled, but recurrence is likely.
Indigestion usually does not cause complications, but it can occasionally be a symptom of another disorder that could be more serious.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
Most people will self-treat this disorder. If symptoms persist or cause concern, see your health care provider. A physical exam may be done and questions asked about your symptoms. Medical tests may sometimes be needed to check for other disorders.
Treatment and prevention are similar. Follow the steps listed here to help relieve the symptoms.
Eat slowly. Chew food carefully and completely.
Don't smoke right before or during a meal.
Relax after meals, but don't lie down.
Avoid excitement or exercise right after a meal.
Avoid situations that make you swallow air, such as chewing gum, or drinking carbonated drinks.
Avoid tight clothing.
Avoid foods you don't digest well.
Avoid emotional problems during meals.
Place blocks under the head of your bed to raise it a few inches.
Avoid nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. Ask your health care provider about other options.
You may use nonprescription antacids to neutralize the stomach acid. Use H2 antagonists (such as cimetidine or ranitidine) or proton pump inhibitors (such as omeprazole) to reduce stomach acid.
Stronger drugs may be prescribed if needed.
No limits. Daily exercise (such as a 30 minute walk) helps promote good health. Don't exercise right after a meal.
Eat small meals. Don't eat near bedtime. Avoid foods that cause discomfort. Eat slowly; don't gulp your food. Avoid alcohol or caffeine on an empty stomach. Lose weight, if you are overweight.
NOTIFY OUR OFFICE IF
You or a family member has symptoms of indigestion that persist, are severe, or cause concern.
Other symptoms occur along with indigestion, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or rapid weight loss.