Indigestion is also called an upset stomach or dyspepsia. Indigestion is a general term used to describe discomfort in the upper abdomen. Indigestion is not considered as a disease, but rather a set of symptoms you may experience such as stomach pain, abdominal discomfort and the feeling of fullness after you begin eating.
Indigestion is a frequently occurring problem in many people; however, how it occurs varies amongst individuals. Symptoms may be felt occasionally or even daily.
Indigestion may also signify an underlying digestive condition. If your indigestion is not cause by an underlying condition, then it can be easily treated with medication and lifestyle changes.
Watch this YouTube video about How To Treat Indigestion Problems
Signs and symptoms
Indigestion may occur with one or more of these symptoms:
- Feeling of fullness right after you begin your meal. This means you have not eaten much of the food you have to eat, but you feel full early and are not able to finish the food
- Fullness may last longer than normal
- Mild to severe pain in the abdomen – in the area between the navel and the bottom of the breastbone.
- Bloating of the upper abdomen and discomfort
- Burning sensation in the upper abdomen
Additional symptoms may include belching and vomiting, but these occur occasionally.
Sometimes people may even experience heartburn with indigestion, but note that they are two different conditions. Heartburn refers to the pain, discomfort or burning feeling in the chest that travels to the back or neck while eating or after eating.
When to seek medical attention
Mild indigestion is not a cause for alarm. See your doctor if pain or discomfort occurs for more than two weeks.
See your doctor as soon as possible if pain is severe and occurs with:
- Loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss
- Recurrent vomiting or vomit contains blood
- Difficulty swallowing which worsens with time
- Black stool
- Fatigue or weakness (may indicate anemia)
Seek emergency medical help if you experience:
- Breathlessness, perspiration or chest pain that travels to the neck, jaw or arm
- Chest pain with stress or exertion
If you have mild indigestion, symptoms such as pain and discomfort can be easily treated with lifestyle changes. Your doctor will most likely recommend the following lifestyle changes for indigestion:
- Find out what foods trigger indigestion for you and avoid such foods during meals
- Have small, regular meals per day. For example five or six small meals instead of three large ones
- Reduce or avoid completely triggers such as alcohol and caffeine
- Avoid pain medication such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen
- Look for alternatives for medications that stimulate indigestion. Consult your doctor about what medications would suit you best
- Control anxiety and stress with relaxation techniques, exercise and massage
For persistent indigestion, medications may be required. Over-the-counter antacids are usually the first choice to treat indigestion. Speak with your doctor if home treatment, lifestyle changes and OTC medications are ineffective.