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Management of Indigestion

Indigestion usually does not lead to serious complications. However, it can affect quality of life, because it can make you feel uncomfortable, even during most important times. Hence, indigestion should not be taken lightly.

How indigestion is diagnosed?

Diagnosis of indigestion involves thorough history taking as well as detailed physical examination by your doctor. In many cases careful history taking and physical examination can be enough to diagnose indigestion. However, if your indigestion starts suddenly or you experience severe symptoms or elderly person, your doctor may recommend you certain tests which may be helpful in diagnosis. These tests include,

  • Lab tests such as test for thyroid function, or other metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
  • Endoscopy may be requested by your doctor to check upper digestive tract (esophagus, stomach and part of duodenum) as well as to take sample for biopsy, if there is any suspicion of cancer.
  • X-ray and CT scan may also be required.
  • Breath-test (usually urea breath test) to find out presence of H. pylori infection. Stool test may also be required.

If all these tests can not provide any clue for diagnosis of indigestion, your doctor will make a diagnosis of functional indigestion.

Treatment of indigestion:

In most of the cases of indigestion, your doctor may suggest lifestyle modification before he/she prescribes medication for indigestion. Following lifestyle modifications may be helpful,

  • Eating five to six small meals instead of two or three major meals, as is the case for many individuals.
  • Avoid foods that may trigger indigestion
  • Avoid (preferably) or reduce alcohol intake and caffeine intake.
  • Quit smoking if you are a smoker.
  • Manage stress and anxiety
  • Avoid over the counter pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen etc.

If still your indigestion persists, your doctor may prescribe medications. The following are commonly used medications for indigestion.

  • Proton pump inhibitors: these are the most widely used medications (e.g. omeprazole, rabeprazole, pantoprazole etc.) for indigestion. These medications reduce stomach acid production (even stop production). They are also commonly used for indigestion along with heartburn.
  • H2 receptor antagonists such as ranitidine
  • Antibiotics, for elimination of H. pylori infection if present
  • Prokinetic drugs
  • Drugs used for anxiety and depression, because anxiety and depression can cause indigestion.

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