Symptoms and Causes of Indigestion

Indigestion or stomach upset in medical term is known as dyspepsia (actually means discomfort in upper abdomen). Indigestion is not a disease itself but a group of symptoms that most of us experience in our lifetime (symptoms such as fullness of abdomen shortly after starting eating, abdominal pain or abdominal discomfort), due to some other medical condition. Indigestion is a common problem, although the symptoms may vary from person to person and also in frequency of the symptoms.

What are the symptoms of indigestion?

Symptoms of indigestion include:

  • Discomfort in abdomen (especially in upper abdomen) is common symptom of indigestion. Discomfort may be expressed as mild to moderate abdominal pain. Pain may be located over a place from below breast bone (sternum) to umbilicus.
  • Bloating in abdomen, this may be experienced as tightness of abdomen.
  • Burning sensation or burning pain in upper abdomen (this is also a symptom of peptic ulcer).
  • Feeling of fullness shortly after starting eating, before you have finished your usual meal with usual quantity of food.
  • Feeling of excess fullness after finishing eating usual quantity of food. Fullness also lasts longer than usual.
  • There may be nausea and less commonly even vomiting and belching.

Many people suffer from indigestion and most of them have only mild symptoms, which usually do not need any medical treatment as it, tend to go away on its own. However, if you have moderate symptoms and they last for more than two weeks, you must consult your doctor.

What are the causes of indigestion?

Indigestion is most commonly due to lifestyle. Modern lifestyle is not favorable for indigestion.

Common causes of indigestion are

  • Eating too quickly and eating too much (overeating)
  • Smoking (another reason to quit smoking)
  • Medications such as certain antibiotics, pain relievers (especially over-the-counter pain medications), iron supplements etc.
  • Consumption of too much caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages, chocolates etc.
  • Consumption of greasy, fatty/oily, spicy foods
  • Anxiety

Less common causes of indigestion are

  • Peptic ulcer
  • Gastritis,
  • Constipation
  • Gallstone (and removal of gall bladder due to stone)
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of pancreas)
  • Intestinal blockage, intestinal ischemia
  • Celiac disease

If you are suffering from indigestion, but no obvious cause can be found, it is called functional dyspepsia.

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