Definition | Causes | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention

Definition

Indigestion is discomfort in the stomach or chest. It is often called an upset stomach. It may happen every once in a while or often.

Locations of Indigestion Symptoms

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Causes

The exact cause is not known.

Risk Factors

The following lifestyle factors increase your chances of indigestion:

  • Overeating
  • Eating too quickly or at irregular intervals
  • Eating greasy, high-fat, or spicy foods
  • Drinking caffeine, alcohol, or soft drinks in excess
  • Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Smoking
  • Psychological stress

Symptoms

Indigestion can have number of symptoms including:

  • Pain or burning sensation in the upper abdomen or chest
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Belching or regurgitation

When Should I Call My Doctor?

Make an appointment to see your doctor if your symptoms get worse. Other signs that suggest a visit to the doctor is needed include:

  • Having trouble swallowing
  • Vomiting with most episodes
  • Experiencing weight loss
  • Having a family history of cancer
  • Taking medications to ease symptoms for more than one month

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and any past medical issues. Indigestion may be suspected based on your symptoms.

Other tests that may be done:

  • Upper GI endoscopy—if there are severe symptoms like bleeding
  • Testing for H Pylori—a bacteria that can cause problems in the stomach

Treatment

Your doctor will suggest a plan based on your specific needs. Treatment options include:

Dietary and Lifestyle Changes

Changes in your diet may help manage symptoms. Habits that may help reduce your symptoms include:

  • Avoid or limit alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages.
  • Aim for a healthy, balanced diet. This will help get proper nutrients.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Look for relaxation programs or techniques. Stress can make some symptoms worse.

Keep a food diary. Note what your were eating, how much, and what you were doing when symptoms started. Keep track of changes to see if it helps.

Medications

Your doctor may need to change your current medicines. Medicines to help manage symptoms may include:

  • Antacids—to help dull stomach acid
  • Acid suppression agents—decrease acid in stomach
  • Prokinetic agents—to help the stomach empty more quickly
  • Antibiotics—to treat a bacterial infection if one is present

Prevention

To help reduce the chances of indigestion:

  • Avoid overeating
  • Eat slowly and regularly
  • Do not smoke
  • Drink coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages in moderation
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Do not lie down within 2 hours of eating