Everything You Need to Know About Dyspepsia

Why Indigestion is More Than Just Uncomfortable

Woman holding stomach in purple shirt
MarsBars/E+/Getty Images

Dyspepsia (pronounced diss-PEP-see-uh) is a term used to describe the discomfort that occurs in the upper abdomen and is often provoked by eating. You may know it best by its common name of indigestion.

How Do You Know It's Indigestion?

Symptoms of dyspepsia may be one or more of the following:

  • A gnawing or burning pain in the stomach
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Burping
  • Flatulence

Because indigestion can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as an ulcer or occasionally cancer, anyone experiencing the following symptoms in addition to indigestion should consult with their doctor.

  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Severe pain
  • Anyone over 45 who has not previously suffered from any indigestion problems

Immediate medical attention is needed for anyone who experiences either of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting with specks of blood or with blood that looks like coffee-grounds
  • Vomiting fresh blood

What Causes Indigestion?

Indigestion can be caused by a number of things. Sometimes it is caused by how and what we eat; so, if you overeat, eat too fast, eat spicy or fatty foods, or consume too much caffeine or alcohol, dyspepsia can occur. Using substances can also prompt indigestion, such as smoking, taking antibiotics, or pain killers such as aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can cause indigestion. In these cases, if the condition improves or resolves, the symptoms of indigestion usually go away.

Then, there are the more serious reasons why dyspepsia occur. These conditions usually occur in the digestive tract and can include:

Sometimes a person has indigestion for which a cause cannot be found. This type of indigestion, called functional dyspepsia, is thought to occur in the area where the stomach meets the small intestine. The indigestion may be related to abnormal motility—the squeezing or relaxing action—of the stomach muscle as it receives, digests, and moves food into the small intestine.

How Is Indigestion Treated?

Treating dyspepsia is a lot like treating and preventing heartburn. First, make sure that you make some changes to your lifestyle, such as diet, exercise, and sleeping patterns. These changes can help you prevent the indigestion in the first place, but when you are dealing with a bout of indigestion, they aren't going to help much.

Instead, you can turn to many of the over-the-counter remedies that relieve heartburn, such as antacids. There are also natural remedies for indigestion that you can try, such as ginger or apple cider vinegar.

Continue Reading