Indigestion- Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Indigestion is a condition of impaired digestion. It is also known as Dyspepsia or Stomach upset. This condition is a common problem. Although it’s not a disease, but it can be a symptom of digestive tract diseases. It can also occur without any underlying disease. Lifestyle changes, medications, food habits etc may also aggravate this condition. A feeling of fullness in the stomach, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting etc can occur due to it. It can occur on a daily basis or occasionally. If it happens on a daily basis, it may lead to some digestive tract disease. Prevention of this condition is necessary to avoid many problems. So, let’s see the different signs, symptoms of indigestion

8 Signs and Symptoms of Indigestion

Indigestion is basically a group of signs and symptoms. Any of these symptoms can occur in a person. One should not ignore these. Let’s see the various signs and symptoms.

1. Fullness in the Stomach

Early fullness feeling can occur during a meal. Person may not be able to finish the meal. This fullness is uncomfortable and lasts longer than usual. It also causes discomfort in the upper area of the stomach between the ribs and the navel.

2. Gastro- oesophageal Reflux

Gastro- oesophageal reflux is the reflux of acid back into the oesophagus from the stomach. This reflux causes burning sensation in the throat and bad acidic taste. The acid irritates the throat. This also causes pain in chest and throat, sensation of lump in the chest and difficulty in swallowing.

3. Burning Sensation

Acid reflux can cause burning sensation in the throat. Burning sensation can also occur with discomfort in the upper part of the stomach.

4. Abdominal Pain

Indigestion can cause abdominal pain along with burning sensation and discomfort. Pain can occur in the throat and upper abdomen.

5. Acidic Taste

The increased amount of acid present in the stomach is refluxed into the oesophagus. This in turn causes acidic taste in the throat and mouth. It can also cause inflammation and erosion in the throat. So, suppression of the acid production helps to reduce the acidic taste and burning sensation.

6. Gurgling

It is a bubbling sound. It can occur in the throat due to reflux of acid and other contents present in the stomach. This symptom also occurs with other symptoms caused by increased acid.

7. Diarrhoea or Constipation

It can cause both diarrhoea and constipation. Overeating and eating of slowly digestible food may cause diarrhoea. In other cases, constipation or bowel movements within normal limits can occur. You can treat constipation using ayurvedic home remedies.

8. Bloating and Belching

Excess production of gas can occur in indigestion which causes bloating. This can cause fullness sensation, distension of the abdomen and pain. Belching is the expulsion of gas through mouth from the gastro- intestinal tract.

Causes of Indigestion

This condition can occur due to various reasons including food habits, alcohol, some physiological conditions etc. Some diseases of digestive tract or other systems can also cause this. Let’s take a look on different causes of it.

Common Causes of Indigestion

1. Overeating

Excess consumption of food or eating the food too quickly can temporarily impair the digestive system function. Too much amount of food than the normal capacity is not properly digested by the stomach leading to this condition. Digestion of food starts at the time of chewing it in the mouth. So, eating food too quickly hampers its proper digestion. Improperly digested food then causes regurgitation of the food in the oesophagus or throat, burning sensation and bad taste. So, one should always eat only the required amount of food and the food should be chewed properly.

2. Excess use of Pain killers

Pain killers such as non- steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs, aspirin, ibuprofen, paracetamol etc are over the counter available medicines. People consume these medicines as and when required without doctor’s consultation. These medicines cause damage to the mucosa of the stomach and increases acid production in the stomach. Thereby, they cause indigestion, burning sensation and might lead to increased risk of bleeding in the stomach.

3. Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption especially excess intake irritates the digestive system and increases the acid production in the stomach. Thereby, it causes heart burn and improper digestion of food.

4. Smoking

Nicotine present in the tobacco and tobacco products relaxes the muscles and the sphincter in the oesophagus. Sphincter of oesophagus is a ring like constriction which helps to keep the acid in the stomach. Relaxation of this structure may aggravate the acid reflux leading to burning sensation and other symptoms.

5. Caffeine Consumption

Caffeine triggers the acid production. So, excess consumption of caffeine leads to acidity and indigestion.

6. Eating Spicy and Fatty Foods

Spicy foods directly irritates the mucosa of the oesophagus and stomach. Fatty foods are digested slowly in the stomach and they give an early fullness feeling. So both of these can lead to impaired digestion.

7. Stress

Anxiety and stress increases the acid production in the stomach and thereby aggravates this condition.

8. Obesity

Obesity increases the severity of acid reflux and causes heartburn. So, everyone should try to maintain their weight and should do exercises regularly.

9. Other Medications

Medications other than pain killers can also cause increased acid reflux. Antibiotics such as tetracyclines, oral contraceptive pills, hormone replacement therapy, iron supplements, thyroid medications etc increase the acid production in the stomach and aggravates heartburn.

10. Pregnancy

In early phase of pregnancy, change in hormonal levels may cause heartburn and impair digestion. As pregnancy advances, the baby pushes up against the stomach. So, even eating normal amount of food may cause heartburn. To avoid this problem the person should eat small quantities of food frequently.

Symptoms of Digestive Tract Diseases

1. Gastritis or Inflammation of the Stomach

Gastritis is an inflammation or erosion of the stomach mucosa. Excess alcohol intake, stress, medications such as pain killers, bacterial infection in the stomach may cause gastritis. This condition then leads to impaired digestion, acid reflux and heartburn.

2. Stomach ulcers

Ulcers in the inner lining of stomach and small intestine are caused by increased acid production. These ulcers can cause pain in the upper part of the abdomen. Stomach ulcers causes pain abdomen which worsens with eating food. Pain of small intestine ulcers reduces with eating. These ulcers also causes burning sensation, belching, vomiting and may also cause bleeding in the digestive tract in severe conditions.

3. Helicobacter Pylori Infection

Infection with Helicobacter Pylori is one of the most common cause of gastritis and impaired digestion. The bacteria irritates the stomach lining. This infection also leads to increased acid production and irritates the mucosa.

4. Gall stones

Gall stones and other chronic gall bladder problems cause digestive problems. Stones can block the bile duct. Inflammation in the bile duct in chronic gall bladder problems leads to acid reflux, bloating, belching, pain abdomen especially in the right side and upper back area etc. The pain usually aggravates after eating fatty or oily foods. So fatty foods should be avoided by persons having gall bladder problems.

5. Inflammation in the Pancreas

Pancreas secrete enzymes which helps in digestion of the food. Inflammation in the pancreas is also known as pancreatitis. Gall bladder stones can cause inflammation in both the bile duct and the pancreas. Alcoholism, autoimmune diseases etc also cause pancreatitis. In this condition pancreas secrete enzymes less than the normal amount. This in turn causes symptoms of indigestion.

6. Stomach Cancer

Chronic indigestion, heartburn, pain abdomen, nausea and vomiting etc are some of the symptoms of stomach cancer. These symptoms usually occur in the advanced stage of it. In the early stages, the symptoms are very mild or not present. So, it becomes difficult to diagnose this condition at an early stage.

Treatment Options for Indigestion

Although indigestion is not a disease but it should not be ignored. It causes discomfort and problem and may make a bad day or worse night. People can modify their diet habits and lifestyle to prevent this problem. Excess intake of over the counter available medicines should be avoided. If it happens even after lifestyle changes, then medications are helpful to prevent it. Always take doctor’s consultation before starting any medication. There are so many causes which lead to indigestion. So, first the condition should be identified by the doctor.

1. Diet Modifications

Modifications in the diet habits include avoidance of the food which triggers it. Avoid overeating, spicy foods, fatty foods, eating too fast etc. Eating 4- 5 small meals than eating 2- 3 large meals also helps to prevent this. High fiber diet, fruits and vegetable rich diet and snacks helps in digestion of the food. Reducing the consumption of alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks also helps. Eating a balanced diet and good amount of fluid intake improve digestion.

2. Antacids

Antacids are over the counter available medicines which helps to reduce the acidity. These medicines contain aluminium hydroxide, magnesium trisilicate, magnesium hydroxide etc. These alkaline ions chemically neutralize the acids present in the stomach and relieves heartburn etc.

3. Proton- pump Inhibitors

Proton- pump inhibitors such as pantoprazole, omeprazole, rabeprazole etc and H2- receptor antagonists such as ranitidine etc are acid reducing medicines. They reduce the amount of acid production and helps.

4. Antibiotics

Antibiotics are given to eliminate Helicobacter Pylori infection. After eliminating this infection, digestion improves.

5. Psychological Therapy

To reduce stress and anxiety in a person, psychological therapy is given. Relaxation therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy etc are helpful. Anti- depressants and anti- anxiety medicines are sometimes given in severe conditions.

Indigestion is a common problem of daily life and it can occur in any person. So, everyone should know about this condition. Modification of lifestyle should be considered as an important thing to avoid this problem. Before starting any medication course, one should always take doctor’s opinion.

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