What is indigestion?
Indigestion or dyspepsia happens when your body has trouble digesting food. It targets the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is a group of organs that plays a part in digestion. Anyone can get indigestion. You can get it on occasion, or it can be an ongoing problem. The symptoms and causes vary by case. If there is no known cause for indigestion, it is referred to as functional dyspepsia.
How bad is my indigestion?
Mild: Mild symptoms; intervention not indicated. Most of the time, mild dyspepsia can be safely managed at home by following the tips given in the section below.
Moderate: Moderate symptoms; medical intervention indicated. It can be safely managed at home but sometimes it may require the attention of the medical team.
Severe: Severe symptoms; operative intervention indicated. Severe dyspepsia can be an emergency and require additional medical interventions or hospitalization in some cases.
How to manage mild indigestion?
There are ways to prevent 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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