What is Indigestion?
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Indigestion, also known as upset stomach or dyspepsia, is discomfort or a burning feeling
in the upper abdomen, often accompanied by nausea, abdominal bloating, belching, and
Some people also use the term indigestion to describe the symptom of heartburn.
Indigestion might be caused by a disease in the digestive tract such as ulcer or
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but for many people, it results from eating too
much, eating too quickly, eating high- fat foods, or eating during stressful situations.
Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, using medications that irritate the stomach lining,
being tired, and having ongoing stress can also cause indigestion or make it worse.
Some people have persistent indigestion that is not related to any of these factors.
This type of indigestion - called functional or nonulcer dyspepsia - may be caused by a
problem in the muscular squeezing action of the stomach (motility).
To diagnose indigestion, the doctor might perform tests for problems, like ulcers. In the
process of diagnosis, a person may have x rays of the stomach and small intestine or
undergo endoscopy, in which the doctor uses an instrument to look at the inside of the
Avoiding the foods and situations that seem to cause indigestion in some cases is the
most successful way to treat it. Heartburn caused by acid reflux is usually improved by
treatment with antacids, H2 blockers, or proton pump inhibitors.
Smokers can help
relieve their indigestion by quitting smoking, or at least not smoking right before eating.
Exercising with a full stomach may cause indigestion, so scheduling exercise before a
meal or at least an hour afterward might help.
To treat indigestion caused by a functional problem in the digestive tract, the doctor may
prescribe medicine that affects stomach motility.
the other symptoms?
Because indigestion can seem like, a more serious disease, people should see
a doctor if they have:
vomiting, weight loss, or appetite loss
black tarry stools or blood in vomit
severe pain in the upper right abdomen
discomfort unrelated to eating
indigestion accompanied by
shortness of breath, sweating, or pain radiating to the
jaw, neck, or arm
symptoms that persist for more than 2 weeks
If you have
any of the above symptoms, see a Doctor.
For More Information:
International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) Inc.
P.O. Box 170864
Milwaukee, WI 53217
Phone: 1-888-964-2001 or 414-964-1799
The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse collects resource information on digestive
diseases for the Combined Health Information Database (CHID). CHID is a database produced by
health related agencies of the Federal Government. This database provides titles, abstracts, and availability
information for health information and health education resources.
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