Indigestion is the name given to a collection of digestive symptoms, including a feeling of fullness or discomfort in your upper abdomen, heartburn, and nausea. The medical term for indigestion is dyspepsia. People often experience indigestion after eating large meals. Indigestion may often be relieved with lifestyle changes and medicines.
The symptoms of indigestion include:
- Burning in the stomach or upper abdomen
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating (full feeling)
- Belching and gas
- Nausea and vomiting
- Acidic taste
- Growling stomach
Indigestion often goes away on its own and will pass with time. For example, if you experience indigestion after a large meal, your abdominal discomfort may lessen as your body begins to digest the food you’ve eaten. Some medications may also help you treat and provide relief of indigestion symptoms. Nonprescription antacids are generally the first choice.
Antacids are medicines that neutralize acid in the stomach. They contain ingredients such as aluminium, calcium, magnesium, or sodium bicarbonate which act as bases (alkalis) to counteract stomach acid and make its pH more neutral. By neutralizing stomach acid, antacids relieve symptoms related to indigestion. Antacids are available as liquids or tablets. Some products also contain other ingredients, such as simethicone which helps disperse gas in people prone to bloating.
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The best way to prevent indigestion is to avoid the foods and situations that seem to cause it. Keeping a food diary is helpful in identifying foods that cause indigestion. Here are some other suggestions:
- Eat small meals
- Eat slowly.
- Try not to chew with your mouth open, talk while you chew, or eat too fast.
- Avoid foods that contain high amounts of acids, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.
- Avoid spicy foods.
- Reduce or avoid foods and beverages that contain caffeine.
- If stress is a trigger for your indigestion, learn new methods for managing stress, such as
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking can irritate the lining of the stomach.
- Cut back on alcohol because it can also irritate the stomach lining.
When to see a doctor
Contact your doctor right away if pain is severe or accompanied by :
- Unintentional weight loss or loss of appetite
- Repeated vomiting or vomiting with blood
- Black, tarry stools
- Trouble swallowing that gets worse
- Fatigue or weakness, which may be signs of anemia
Seek immediate medical attention if you have:
- Shortness of breath, sweating or chest pain radiating to the jaw, neck or arm
- Chest pain when you’re active or stressed