What is Indigestion? Symptoms, Causes and Relief

Indigestion has become so prevalent that we hear about such incidents from our friends, family, and colleagues almost daily. Did you know that every 7 out of 10 people go through this adversity?

Scientifically, the umbrella term for indigestion and similar issues is Dyspepsia. Dyspepsia is an irritation in the digestive tract or a stomach disorder leading to irritation in the esophagus lining.

1. What is Indigestion?

If you get stomach pain or irritable bowel movement, something is wrong with your digestive system, causing indigestion problems. At least once in your life, you must have experienced indigestion, which is not an issue. But, some people experience it daily, which is a matter of concern.

Indigestion is mainly categorized as ‘functional’ and ‘organic’. Functional indigestion is where no underlying disease cause is found and can be treated simply by taking good care of gut health. Organic indigestion is the outcome of an underlying disease related to digestive enzymes in the body and requires medications to get rid of it.

2. Symptoms of Indigestion

People often complain about various factors or issues that they face while having indigestion. A few of them are as follows:-

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  1. Upper abdomen pain – is a burning sensation or tightness between the bottom of the breastbone and belly button.
  2. Nausea– A sensation that makes you feel that you want to vomit.
  3. Bloating – is when the stomach feels full due to excessive gas.
  4. Dysphagia– A feeling of difficulty in swallowing food or drinking water arising from the esophagus.
  5. Regurgitation– A feeling when swallowed food comes back up.
  6. Acid reflux– A burning sensation that leads to excessive stomach acid flowing up to the esophagus.
  7. Heartburn– A discomfort in the upper chest after having food in bigger bites or late at night.
  8. Increased burping– A way of passing excessive gas from the stomach through the mouth due to increased body acid.

3. Causes of Indigestion

As mentioned earlier, the types of indigestion can be functional or organic(serious). Some of the causes of both indigestions are:-

3.1. Functional Indigestion Causes

3.1.1. Poor Diet and Sedentary Lifestyle

People who consume unhealthy foods, such as those high in sugars, oil, and saturated fats, lead to excess stomach acid, causing digestive problems. It also irritates the upper abdomen, leading to malnourishment.

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To avoid this, you should have a proper balanced diet. Moreover, an inactive lifestyle with very little movement or rather no movement of the body leads to indigestion and other health problems like diabetes and obesity. As a result, one should have a daily physical exercise routine to stay fit.

3.1.2. Stress

Long-term stress leads to physical or emotional tension. The tension caused, if left untreated, often leads to anxiety that pushes up the acid in the stomach and leads to a feeling of indigestion.

3.1.3. Medicines

Some medicines, such as antibiotics and painkillers for treating chronic pain, have negative results on the digestive system. These medications cause a sense of heartburn and discomfort.

3.1.4. Smoking and Overconsumption of Alcohol

Smoking and alcohol consumption have a deteriorating impact on your health, which irritates the mucus lining of the stomach, causing indigestion.

3.2. Organic Indigestion Causes

These causes are often caused by an underlying disease resulting in indigestion like:-

3.2.1. Excessive Stomach Acid

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from pexels

Acid causes a burning sensation, a symptom of indigestion. The lining of the stomach is often worn down, which causes severe pain and inflammation in the stomach.

3.2.2. Acid Reflux

Sometimes, acid escapes from the stomach and goes into the bottom of the esophagus, called acid reflux. The esophagus can’t tolerate acid, causing a feeling of burning and irritation in the esophagus and upper abdomen.

3.2.3. Peptic Ulcer Disease

This disease often leads to indigestion when the lining of the stomach fades away, and acid in the stomach leads to ulcers. The symptoms worsen when accompanied by bloating and nausea.

3.2.4. GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

This is a chronic disease that occurs when the acid in the stomach flows back again and again to the food pipe, resulting in digestive issues. It is mainly caused by overeating, being obese, and having large amounts of spicy foods. The most common symptom of it is heartburn, triggering indigestion.

3.2.5. IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

It is caused by weakening your gut health, which affects the stomach and intestines. The food eaten either passes too early or too late in your gut, resulting in severe indigestion, which must be treated for the long term to recover. The symptoms are constipation, excessive gas, and bloating.

Indigestion can be caused if the gallbladder is not working properly in your body. Since the gallbladder is connected to bile ducts and bile ducts to your digestive system, any infection or stones in it result in indigestion. This condition requires treatment under a doctor’s advice.

However, to know the exact cause of indigestion, doctors suggest various tests like X-rays, CT scans, or ultrasound. Also, an endoscopy of the gastrointestinal tract is performed for more serious issues. Indigestion can go away if treated properly.

4. Some Ways to Get Rid of Indigestion

It’s completely normal to get indigestion or stomach pain, which self-effort can usually treat. In some cases, it may require a doctor’s help. Some of the ways to ease indigestion are as follows:-

what is indigestion
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  • Have a properly balanced diet and avoid spicy, oily foods and some liquids like coffee, tea, and soft drinks that irritate the stomach lining.
  • Manage stress and anxiety through the help of psychological therapies. Even practicing meditation helps you to be tension-free and relaxed.
  • Moreover, power yoga is a good technique to manage stress, which thereby helps ease indigestion.
  • Consuming over-the-counter pills like antacids and antibiotics can help relieve acid reflux as these medications neutralize the excess stomach acid causing heartburn or irritation.
  • Making lifestyle changes like having a minimum of one hour of physical activity, say, jogging, walking, and swimming, helps digestion of our food. Therefore, inducing mobility for good health and maintaining moderate weight is advised.
  • Some small attempts like having food on time, eating slowly, and not just lying down after having food can result in a huge difference when overcoming the issue of indigestion.

5. Home Remedies

Here are some home remedies that are easy to practice and will quickly relieve indigestion.

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from pexels
  •  Baking soda- It’s one of the most common home remedies that neutralizes the extra acid in the esophagus and stomach and provides instant relief. All you need to do is stir a half teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it immediately.
  • Fennel seeds- Fennel seeds are rich in alkaline nature, which means they can help reduce inflammation in the stomach and relieve nausea, gas, and bloating.
  • Ginger tea- Ginger also has chemicals that help in quicker digestion of food. Having ginger tea reduces the symptoms of nausea and diarrhea associated with indigestion.
  • Chamomile tea – It is rich in antioxidants, having positive results in protection against stomach ulcers. It reduces acidity and stops the growth of bacteria that contribute to ulcer development in the stomach.
  • Bananas – Being a good source of fiber and low-acidic in nature, the vitamins in bananas help in effective and efficient digestion, reducing stomach acid.
  • Lemon water – Being rich in vitamin C, it is known for stimulating the production of bile and gastric juices, preventing gas formation. You must squeeze half a lemon in a glass of water and drink it to relieve indigestion quickly.
  • Aloe vera juice- Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce acid in your stomach. It also promotes the healing of the gastrointestinal tract lining, which reduces the symptoms of discomfort and pain in the upper abdominal area of the body.
  • Peppermint –Peppermint helps relax the muscles of the stomach and esophagus, having calming effects on the gastrointestinal tract.

Final Note

Indigestion is a common problem that happens to almost everyone at least once in a lifetime. It’s usually not serious. But, if you have it often, it can become an issue. Thus, you should take good care of your digestive system because it is the most complex and main organ of the human body, and other organs depend on it for life-supporting nutrition.

Last Updated on by Sathi Chakraborty, MSc Biology

Authors

NITYA KAKKAR
Sathi Chakraborty, MSc Biology

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