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What Is Indigestion?

Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is a very common condition characterized by discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen. Indigestion actually refers to group of symptoms such as feeling of fullness, bloating, belching and nausea that usually occur after a meal. It can be also accompanied with heartburn. Indigestion usually indicates some underlying medical problem like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or peptic ulcer disease.

Symptoms of indigestion often resolve on their own within a couple of hours. However, if the symptoms last long and regularly occur, indigestion requires treatment. Previously mentioned common symptoms of indigestion usually occur as a result of the stomach acid flowing back to the esophagus.

Causes of Indigestion

Indigestion may occur due to many causes. It may occur due to an underlying disease such as GERD, peptic ulcer disease, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, thyroid problem, stomach infections, gastroparesis and stomach cancer. Once the underlying problem is diagnosed and treated, symptoms of indigestion will improve.

Indigestion can also be caused by certain medications and over the counter remedies. Medications that may cause indigestion include aspirin, corticosteroids, certain antibiotics, oral contraceptive pills and thyroid medications. If indigestion occurs as a side effect of medications the person is taking, a doctor may recommend alternative medicines or treatments to manage indigestion.

Furthermore, lifestyle factors may too contribute to indigestion. Dietary habits like eating too much, eating too fast and swallowing excessive air while eating are common causes of indigestion. The symptoms can be relieved with simple changes the sufferer can make. Indigestion can be avoided by eating several small meals per day and eating slower. Also, it is recommended to avoid foods that trigger indigestion such as fatty foods, spice foods, coffee and carbonated beverages. Heavy meals late at night should be avoided as well. Excess alcohol intake and cigarette smoking are generally bad for health and may cause heartburn, indigestion and irritate the stomach.

Stress is a significant factor in development of many diseases as well as of indigestion. However, with proper stress management techniques frequency of indigestion can be considerably reduced.

Treatment for Indigestion

The treatment of indigestion is determined by an underlying medical condition. However, the symptoms of indigestion can be relieved with lifestyle and dietary changes or with different medications. Most commonly indigestion is treated with nonprescription antacids to reduce stomach acid production. H2 receptor antagonists or proton pump inhibitors can be used if the symptoms continue after taking antacids.

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