What is indigestion?
Indigestion or dyspepsia occurs when your body has trouble digesting food. It affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is a group of organs that plays a vital role in digestion.
You can suffer from indigestion occasionally, or it can be an ongoing problem. The symptoms and causes may vary in every individual. If there is unknown cause for indigestion, it is referred to as functional dyspepsia.
How bad is my indigestion?
Mild: The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, belching, and bloating. Most of the time, mild symptoms can be safely managed at home by following the tips given in the section below.
Moderate: The symptoms are upper abdominal discomfort, appetite loss, constipation or diarrhea and feeling full after a small meal. It can be safely managed at home but sometimes you may require medical assistance.
Severe: Visit your doctor urgently if you have indigestion for more than two weeks. Other alarming signs are prolonged vomiting, breathlessness, weight loss, black stools, severe pain on the top right side of the abdomen and difficulty in swallowing.
How to manage mild indigestion?
- Try to know your body and how it reacts to different food and drinks.
- Try to avoid spicy and acidic foods and carbonated drinks.
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day, and don’t eat too late at night.
- Don’t lie down too soon after eating.
- Limit the use of alcohol and tobacco.
- Get more sleep and reduce the level of stress.
- Some over the counter medicines (antacids and Histamine blockers) may curb the symptoms.
How to manage moderate and severe dyspepsia?
Seek medical care right away if your symptoms are severe, such as:
- Breathing problem (Dyspnea)
- Trouble swallowing
- Ongoing vomiting
- Throwing up blood
- Sudden pain in chest, arm, neck, or jaw
- Cold sweats
- Thick, black, or bloody stool
What causes indigestion?
A lot of factors can cause indigestion. These include:
- Eating certain foods, such as those that are spicy and fatty, and those with lots of acid or fiber
- Eating too late in the day
- Drinking alcohol or too much caffeine
- Taking certain medicines
- Not sleeping
Problems in your GI tract or other health issues also can cause indigestion.
- Acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux (GER), or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD):
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- A bacterial infection from Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
- Gastroparesis: If muscles in your GI tract stop working, your body slows down or stops the movement of food.
- A sore on the lining of your stomach (peptic ulcer), small intestine, or esophagus.
- Stomach cancer
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