Indigestion refers to discomfort in your upper abdomen, and is used to describe certain symptoms, like belly pain or a feeling of fullness, rather than a specific disease. Digestion may also be called dyspepsia or an upset stomach.
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A condition known as functional or non-ulcer dyspepsia, which is related to irritable bowel syndrome, is a very common cause of indigestion – along with these GI conditions:
While indigestion doesn't typically have serious complications, unpleasant symptoms can affect your everyday life. In some cases, patients miss work or school or can’t perform everyday activities because of symptoms.
Less frequent symptoms include vomiting, belching, and heartburn. Heartburn is described as a painful, burning sensation in the center of your chest that may radiate into the neck or back during or after eating.
Mild indigestion is usually nothing to worry about and does not require medical attention. Consult your healthcare provider, though, if discomfort lasts for more than two weeks.
Contact your GI specialist in Charleston, SC right away if pain is severe or accompanied by:
Seek medical care immediately if you have:
Lifestyle changes like these may help ease indigestion:
If lifestyle changes don’t relieve indigestion symptoms, medication may help. Your GI doctor will likely suggest nonprescription antacids first, followed by one of these recommendations:
What do you do if you can't burp?
Breathing while sitting straight up can help increase the chances of a burp.
Get air into your throat by sucking in air through your mouth until you feel an air bubble in your throat, and then block the front of your mouth with your tongue so you can release the air slowly. This should trigger a burp. Other tips to help burp during indigestion:
What does indigestion feel like?
Indigestion may include various symptoms, but it always involves abdominal pain or discomfort. Most of the digestive organs are found in the abdomen, so if they’re having difficulties performing normal functions, that’s where you’ll feel it. Indigestion symptoms always occur during digestion, after eating.
Experts generally agree that the symptoms of indigestion include:
Those who experience indigestion often report other accompanying symptoms, like these:
It’s important to remember that a heart attack may be disguised as indigestion. Seek medical attention immediately if your indigestion is accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath, or a tight, clenching feeling in your upper abdominal area.
What does severe indigestion feel like?
Severe indigestion causes mild to severe pain in the area between the bottom of your breastbone and your belly button. You may also feel an uncomfortable burning sensation between the bottom of your breastbone and your belly button. Bloating in the upper abdomen is another common symptom of severe indigestion.
How long does indigestion last?
Symptoms may last just a few minutes to a few hours after eating.
It takes about three to five hours for your stomach to digest a meal before passing it on to your intestines. During that time, your pancreas and gallbladder send bile and enzymes to your stomach to help with digestion. These are the organs in your epigastric region (upper middle abdomen), where indigestion symptoms occur.
What causes indigestion?
Occasional indigestion may occur after a particularly large or rich meal because the GI tract is working harder than usual.
But finding the cause of indigestion that persists past one meal, or that comes and goes chronically, may not be as easy. Sometimes there’s an organic cause, like a medical condition. Other times, there’s no obvious cause at all – called functional dyspepsia.
But in general, causes of indigestion fall into three categories:
What medical treatment is available for chronic indigestion?
Your GI specialist will first perform a physical exam to look for any obvious signs of disease. Depending on their findings, they may want to run additional tests to confirm or rule out a specific condition. Your gastroenterologist may also start by prescribing acid-blocking medications to see if they provide relief.
Prescription acid blockers include:
Does drinking water help indigestion?
Small sips of water when you’re experiencing indigestion may provide some relief, helping to wash the acid back down into your stomach.
If your stomach seems slow to digest and release your food, a little water may also help move things along while diluting the acid. Be sure not to drink so much that it expands your stomach and causes more discomfort.
How do I relieve indigestion at home?
Many people find indigestion relief from over-the-counter (OTC) antacids, like Tums®, Rolaids® and Pepto-Bismol®, that neutralize stomach acid so it doesn’t cause irritation. Antacids work well for occasional indigestion when acid is the cause, but they shouldn’t be taken too often. If you have chronic indigestion, or if antacids don’t help, contact your GI physician in Charleston, SC.
How do I relieve non-acid related indigestion?
If you have functional dyspepsia and aren’t sure what’s causing your symptoms, it can take some trial and error to discover an effective treatment. Since functional disorders are based in your nervous system, typical medications may not work. But medications that target your nerves, combined with mind-body therapies, have a better chance of success.
What can I drink for indigestion?
Drinking water, low-fat milk, and herbal teas may help manage indigestion. Avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and sodas.
What is the best natural drink for indigestion?
Ginger tea is a great natural drink for relieving indigestion. Known as a carminative, ginger has been proven to lower the pressure on the esophageal sphincter and help alleviate reflux and dyspepsia. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory, praised for its GI tract-soothing properties.
Can apple cider vinegar cure indigestion?
Apple cider vinegar might improve acid reflux in people not taking medications and with minimal risk. There's very limited research into the use of apple cider vinegar to treat indigestion, with no solid evidence to back up the claim.
To learn more about treatment for GI tract issues in Charleston, SC, get in touch today! Here at Charleston GI, we remain committed to a higher standard of caring – and we provide a range of medical treatments to help you feel your best.
If you are experiencing painful GI tract symptoms, schedule your appointment today! No referral needed.