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What is Indigestion?

Indigestion also known as dyspepsia refers to gastrointestinal symptoms characterized by pain and discomfort in the upper part of the abdomen.

Causes of Indigestion

Indigestion can result from lifestyle, medical condition, dietary habits, or use of some drugs. Some of the other causes of indigestion include:

  • GERD
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Eating too fast
  • Stomach infection
  • Steroid medications
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Use of certain antibiotics
  • Steroid medications
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Pregnancy
  • Consumption of high fat and spicy foods

Symptoms of Indigestion

Symptoms of indigestion include:

  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Belching
  • Burping up of food
  • Growling sound in stomach
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea

Diagnosis of Indigestion

Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and based on this a physical examination of the stomach will be performed. Your doctor may also recommend the following diagnostic tests:

  • Blood test: Blood tests are performed to look for the presence of H. pylori in the blood that can indicate infection or disease.
  • X-rays: During this study, high electromagnetic energy beams are used to produce images of the digestive tract.
  • CT scan: Special x-rays are used to produce images of any damage or infection in the abdomen.
  • Ultrasound: This test produces images of the internal organs using sound waves of high frequency.
  • Stool test: Your doctor will perform a stool test to detect the presence of H. pylori.
  • Urea breath test: A breath test will be performed in which you will be advised to swallow a capsule containing urea that is tied to an end of a thread. The urea will be converted to carbon dioxide in the presence of H. pylori. The exhaled level of carbon dioxide will be measured and based on this further treatment will be carried out.
  • Endoscopy: This study uses an endoscope which is a thin, flexible tube with a camera and a light attached to its end that is inserted through your esophagus into the stomach to obtain clear images.

Treatment for Indigestion

Treatment methods for indigestion may vary mainly based on the root cause. Some of the common therapeutic measures include:

  • Medications: Your doctor will recommend over the counter antacids to reduce pain by neutralizing the stomach acid. Some of the other medications include:
    • Prokinetics: This improves the movement of the muscles of the digestive tract.
    • H2 receptor antagonists: This helps to reduce the acidity in the stomach.
    • Proton pump inhibitors: This reduces stomach acid.
  • Lifestyle modifications:
    • Your doctor may instruct you to drink more fluids
    • Avoid spicy foods and consumption of alcohol
    • You should avoid eating late at night
    • Control stress and anxiety
    • Reduce the intake of soft drinks and caffeine
    • Try eating smaller meals throughout the day 

Prevention from Indigestion

Preventive measures for indigestion include:

  • Eat smaller more frequent meals
  • Avoid foods with a high amount of acid content
  • Avoid sleeping immediately after eating
  • Avoid exercising with a full stomach
  • Reduce the consumption of alcohol
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting garments
  • American Board of Internal Medicine
  • American Medical Association
  • American College of Gastroenterology
  • Texas Medical Association
  • Memorial Hermann Foundation
  • HCA Healthcare
  • Methodist Church
  • Howard University College of Medicine
  • American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
  • UT Health San Antonio