What is Indigestion?

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Indigestion, also called dyspepsia, is a term used to describe a feeling of fullness during a meal, uncomfortable fullness after a meal, and burning or pain in the upper abdomen.

Indigestion can be caused by a condition in the digestive tract such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease, or cancer. If the condition improves then the symptoms of indigestion usually diminish.

Sometimes, however, a cause can't be found when a person experiences indigestion.

This type of indigestion is called functional dyspepsia, and is thought to occur in the area where the stomach meets the small intestine. The indigestion may be caused by a motility in the stomach muscle as it digests and moves food into the small intestine.

Symptoms of Indigestion

Most people with indigestion can have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling full during a meal. The person feels overly full soon after the meal starts and cannot finish the meal.
  • Feeling overly full after a meal. The person feels overly full after a meal. t may feel like the food is just sitting there in the stomach and is digesting slowly.
  • Chest pain. Pain in the area of the upper abdomen immediately below the ribs. This pain may be mild but it can also become to severe.
  • Burning sensation in the chest. This burning can occur in the same area as the pain, and can be mild to severe.

There are some symptoms that may occur that, but are less likely.

These can be:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • A feeling of tightness in the stomach

The above symptoms are not always an indication of indigestion. Other conditions, such as cancer, ruptured aortic aneurysm, or heart attack, may cause some of these symptoms, especially if the symptom is severe. If there is any doubt or concern over the cause of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

How is indigestion treated?

Some people may experience relief from symptoms of indigestion by

  • Don't eat big meals.Instead, eat several small, low-fat meals throughout the day at a slow pace
  • refraining from smoking
  • Cut down on caffeine. This means abstaining from consuming coffee and carbonated beverages
  • Watch the alcohol intake. Alcohol can trigger indigestion and heartburn
  • Stop using medications that may irritate the stomach lining. These include aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs

The doctor may recommend over-the-counter antacids or medications that reduce acid production or help the stomach move food more quickly into the small intestine. Many of these medications can be purchased without a prescription. Nonprescription medications should only be used at the dose and for the length of time recommended on the label unless advised differently by a doctor. Informing the doctor when starting a new medication is important.

Antacids. When used properly, antacids are useful in relieving the occasional heartburn and indigestion.

The active ingredient in antacids neutralizes stomach acid, which is what is causing the pain. However, it is much better if you prevent the heartburn from occuring in the first place, rather than treating the heartburn after it happens.

Examples of Antacids:

H2 receptor antagonists (H2 blockers) They work longer than but not as quickly as antacids. Side effects of H2 blockers may include headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and unusual bleeding or bruising.

Examples of H2 blockers:

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) PPIs, which are stronger than H2 blockers, also treat indigestion symptoms by reducing stomach acid. PPIs are most effective in treating symptoms of indigestion in people who also have GERD. Side effects of PPIs may include back pain, aching, cough, headache, dizziness, abdominal pain, gas, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.

Examples of PPIs:



How to Stop Heartburn</i>. Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, 0. Print.

Magee, Elaine. Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Acid Reflux Nutrition You Can Live with. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page, 2002. Print.

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