Indigestion is known in the medical field as dyspepsia. This term describes many symptoms that are associated with a feeling of a full stomach, discomfort after a meal, a painful upper abdomen that could be accompanied by a burning sensation. Bloating, belching, heartburn and nausea are also associated with indigestion. Indigestion is common in adults and can occur frequently, sometimes as often as everyday. However, people of all ages are at risk of indigestion. The main reason why adults are the most affected is that the risks associated with indigestion linearly with alcohol consumption and use of drugs that often irritate the stomach lining such as aspirin.
In simple term, indigestion refers to a condition in which digestion is impaired and an upset stomach results. The patient could feel full earlier than is the usual case. When this condition is accompanied by pain then it is said to be chronic. Chronic indigestion is a condition associated with certain diseases like GERD, which is gastroesophageal reflux disease or the gastritis. For some people, chronic indigestion may be the first symptoms of ulcer of the stomach, duodenum or the peptic ulcer disease and even cancer. Undetermined or abrupt onset of dyspepsia in older persons should be treated with a sense of urgency. Symptoms that are unusual and alarming should be subjected to further investigations.
Sometimes, a patient might suffer from indigestion for which it is not possible to identify the causes. This is functional dyspepsia or in other medical cycles it is called nonulcer dyspepsia. Functional dyspepsia is so common in the western countries with an estimated 15 percent of the general population being affected. Indigestion is sometimes mistaken for heartburn or even heart attack. Indigestion, generally, is not a sign of very serious health problem unless other symptoms develop such a difficulty with swallowing or terrible weight loss.
Causes of Indigestion
The cause of indigestion can scientifically be explained. When the acid in the stomach comes into contact with the sensitive and fragile inner lining of the stomach, this acid will break down the protective inner lining. Swelling, soreness, inflammation and irritation will result. These are what manifest as the symptoms of indigestion. The varieties of causes which lead to this scientific process are the following:
- Too much eating. Gluttonous behavior means that the food consumed will be too much for the stomach enzymes and acids to handle leading to indigestion.
- Eating too greasy, fatty and spicy foods are a common cause for indigestion. Fatty foods require a lengthy time period and many processes to be digested. When a person’s digestive system in no capacity to handle too many fatty and greasy foods consumed, then indigestion will result.
- Eating too fast
- Emotional stress and nervousness. When a person is emotionally unstable, the nervous system is affected which in turn destabilizes the endocrine and digestive system. The right combination of hormones that are necessary for the digestion of ingested food is not produced.
- Consumption of high fiber foods
- Too much caffeine and tobacco smoking exacerbates the instances of occurrence of indigestion.
- Inflammation of the inner wall of the stomach, a condition also referred to as gastritis is also a minor cause of indigestion.
- Pancreatis which is a disease characterized by the inflammation of the pancreas
- Intestinal , stomach and other forms of ulcers
- Usage of certain drugs such as the NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), aspirins and other common antibiotics
- Belching and too much gases in the stomach that leads to a growling stomach
- Acidic taste and vomiting
Symptoms of Indigestion
Indigestion usually manifests itself in a myriad of physiological problems such as:
- A feeling of stomach fullness. When a person feels full too soon after he began eating then probably this is a symptom of indigestion.
- Uncomfortable feeling after a meal. The patient may feel a pricking like feeling in the stomach walls. There is that feeling that food has stayed in the stomach for so long. This happens even if the patient has not consumed food for a considerable amount of time.
- Pain. Different levels of pain may be experienced in different areas. Pain may be abdominal or experienced in the chest region. Egigastric pain is synonymous with the area between the navel and the lower end of the chest bone. This egigastric pain ranges from mild to severe
- A burning like feeling. The patient may feel a burning like feeling in the egigastric region. Other less frequent feelings associated with indigestion are a tight unpleasant feeling in the stomach called bloating and nausea. The diagnosis of indigestion is a simple examination by the doctor. The doctor will ask questions about ones current physical conditions as well as medical history. The doctor may then perform blood, breath, stool tests. X rays of the small intestine, abdomen and the stomach may also be ordered. Upper endoscopy can also be performed for chronic cases of indigestion that involve pain.
- It is recommended that someone sees the doctor if the following advanced symptoms are experienced; frequent vomiting, black tarry stools, weight loss, persistent loss of appetite, bloody vomit, difficulty and pain in swallowing, abdominal pain other areas apart from the epigastric area, indigestion that is accompanied by suffocating breath, painful jaws, neck arm and specifically if these symptoms last for a period of more than two weeks.
Indigestion Home Remedies
The remedies that are available for indigestion are fairly simple for the mild types and complex medical procedures for the chronic type. Simple and quick relief from indigestion can be achieved by: Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies and herbal remedies yourself! Here are some of the Indigestion home remedies that you can try.
- Aloe Vera- Juice from aloe Vera helps in reliving indigestion discomfort. It also helps in alleviating the burning feeling associated with indigestion. For effective results, this remedy should be diluted in water and taken three times per day. Nevertheless, it is important to use this remedy sparingly as it can be cathartic.
- Ginger- This is another herbal remedy that has been used for a long time. It facilitates assimilation while reducing nausea. Basically, this herb works by aiding in the process of digestion when one is having indigestion problem. it can be taken with meals that are popular causes of indigestion, after meals or when having indigestion.
- Gentian root- This is a very bitter herb. It has been used for many centuries in curing indigestion in Europe. If you are suffering from indigestion resulting from fats and proteins, this herb can be very effective for you. It should be taken at least twice per day for effective relief.
- Peppermint- Peppermint has been used in curing indigestion for a long time. It works well with all types of indigestions. Basically, it speeds the rate at which the stomach is emptied. It also speeds up the rate of digestion. This reduces flatulence. It should be taken with meals that are popular causes of indigestion. It can also be taken when having indigestion problems.
- Deglcyrrhizinated licorice- This is another effective herbal remedy for indigestion. It should be chewed with water for approximately twenty minutes to realize effective results. It works by elevating the blood pressure. However, it is important to know how to use this herb properly. Avoid taking it daily for five consecutive days.
- Eat Small Meals– Eating several meals during the day that are small in sizes ands low in fats and grease.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco– Refraining from alcohol and for smokers reducing or halting instances of smoking altogether.
- Avoid Carbonated beverages– Avoiding consumption of carbonated beverages and coffee.
- Avoid Stress– The patient also needs to sleep enough, avoid ways that could lead to emotional, mental and other types of stress.
- Antacids– Common antacids are Riopan, Rolaids, Mylanta, Maalx and any other brand name depending on the area and country in which you reside. The main ingredients of antacids are aluminium, calcium and magnesium with hydroxide and bicarbonate ions to help neutralize the acids in the stomach. It is worth noting that antacids can also have side effects such as diarrhea caused by magnesium salt and constipation caused by aluminium salt.
Diet for Indigestion
There are two approaches to managing indigestion based on diet. One approach is to know the foods that cause indigestion and the other is to know foods that prevent or help with indigestion.
- The main types of food that should be avoided as they contribute to indigestion are: caffeinated and carbonated drinks like coffee, tea and sodas. The others are citrus fruits and their juices because of their acidity. A person also needs to avoid peppermint, chocolate, tobacco and alcohols.
- The category of foods that are neutral and do not contribute to indigestion and sometimes help with relieving it are all types of less fiber fruits and vegetables except citrus fruits and tomatoes, skinless chicken, extra lean beef, cheese, fat free sour cream, corn bread, pretzels, eice, and whole breads.
Prevention of Indigestion
- The prevention of indigestion lies in living a disciplined dietary life. Avoid those foods that contribute or worsen the indigestion problem.
- Other lifestyle problems associated with indigestion are eating too much especially high fat food, eating so fast and in the process swallowing air which may increase instances of bloating and belching that are associated with indigestion.
- Other homecare solutions for indigestion are creating calm, stress free environment as this will go a long way in relieving stress related indigestion, allowing enough time for meals and chewing foods properly and completely before swallowing.
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