Indigestion is also known as dyspepsia. It occurs in almost everyone. Inappropriate eating habits and other digestive illnesses are the main cause of indigestion. The distress in the stomach leads to it. It can cause several other digestive problems like heartburn, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and gas.
Most people experience this condition differently- some may feel full without eating, while some experience nausea before or after eating. Adopting healthy eating habits and lifestyle changes will help you overcome this problem.
Symptoms of indigestion
You may feel the following symptoms when you have indigestion:
Feeling full before or after a meal
You may feel fullness before or after finishing your meal. Even if you are eating a small portion of the meal, you may not be able to finish it and feel satiated. Similarly, after finishing a regular meal, you may feel uncomfortable.
Burning sensation in the stomach
You may feel a burning sensation or even pain in your stomach.
You may feel the tightness of your stomach or bloat due to indigestion. It can also result in burping and gas.
Nausea and vomiting
In some cases, indigestion leads to extensive discomfort of the stomach, and you may experience nausea and vomiting. Even thinking about eating may put you in this condition.
In some cases, people feel a burning sensation in their chest region. This burning sensation may increase during or after a meal. It makes a person extremely uncomfortable.
Always monitor your symptoms. Immediately see your doctor if these symptoms get prolonged.
What are the causes of indigestion?
Usually, the eating habits of a person result in indigestion. Overeating is the main cause of indigestion. It can also be caused by spicy, oily, or fast food. Lack of exercise and eating just before going to bed also contribute to indigestion. Similarly, people who immediately lay down after eating are also at greater risk of this problem.
The most common causes of indigestion are:
- Eating spicy and oily food
- Extensive intake of caffeine
- Side effects of medication
- Intestinal blockage
- Gastric cancer
Celiac disease, diabetes, inflammation of the stomach, and peptic ulcers are less common causes of indigestion.
Diagnosis of indigestion
In case of prolonged symptoms, you need to immediately see a doctor. Your doctor will perform various tests by asking few questions about your eating habits and physical condition.
If your symptoms are mild, only these evaluations will be sufficient to understand the cause of indigestion.
However, if the condition is severe or you are older than 50 – you are more likely to undergo the following diagnostic tests.
Your doctor will perform few laboratory tests to check several conditions like anemia or any kind of metabolic disorder. Samples of stools, breath, and blood are also taken to check the bacterial infection associated with the peptic ulcers.
Your doctor will order the endoscopy to check the abnormalities in the upper digestive tract. A tissue sample from the digestive tract lining is taken to analyze the abnormalities. Your doctor will anesthetize you for this procedure. It will help to diagnose ulcers, cancer, or other inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract.
X-ray or CT scan
X-ray and CT scans are ordered to check the internal condition of your digestive tract. It will indicate any obstruction or abnormality of the digestive system.
Treatment of indigestion
After diagnosing the cause of indigestion, your doctor will prescribe the treatment. Most commonly following treatment options are available for indigestion.
Antacids are usually the first option to treat indigestion. If you are experiencing heartburn, then Proton Pump Inhibitors like Prilosec are recommended. It will reduce stomach acidity and give relief from indigestion.
H-2-receptor blockers like Pepcid are also used to reduce the acidity in the stomach.
Both PPIs and H-2-receptors are used for the treatment of peptic ulcers. PPIs and H-2-receptor can sometimes cause few side effects in some individuals, like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and constipation.
Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria that cause indigestion and soreness of the stomach. It can also cause stomach cancer. Antibiotics are used to treat indigestion if it is due to bacterial infection.
Prokinetics are used to improve the performance of the stomach, especially if it empties too slowly.
Lifestyle changes and home remedies
Taking medicines is not a good option to overcome the problem of indigestion. Your doctor may recommend you a few healthy eating habits and lifestyle changes to avoid indigestion like:
- Avoid eating too quickly
- Avoid foods that make stomach upset, like spicy or oily food
- Eat slowly and small food portions
- Do not lie just after eating
- Take 5-6 small meals instead of 3 large meals
- Reduce intake of caffeine, coffee, soft drinks, and alcohol
- Avoid smoking
- Find the alternatives for medicines that cause indigestion or damage the digestive tract
When to see a doctor?
Mild indigestion can be treated at home. See your doctor if your symptoms persist for more than two weeks.
Immediately seek medical attention if you have:
- Continuous vomiting
- Sudden weight loss
- Chest pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Shortness of breath