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Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Indigestion is something that affects all of us from time to time. Most of us associate it with eating too much, or too fast, but there are actually many possible causes.

It usually passes after a little while and is very rarely a sign of something serious. However, if the problem doesn’t go away, or it’s so severe that you’re unable to carry out day-to-day tasks, you should speak to a doctor.

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Indigestion pains
Indigestion symptoms

Symptoms of Indigestion

Typically, indigestion can cause one or both of the following problems:

Heartburn - A burning feeling in your chest
Dyspepsia - A bloated, uncomfortable feeling in your stomach

You might feel a little nauseous, or need to burp in order to relieve your bloating. In some cases, burping will cause food or stomach acid to come back up into your throat, causing a burning sensation and unpleasant taste.

Some people do actually throw up, but while this can be very unpleasant, it’s unlikely to indicate a more serious problem if it’s just a one-off.

Most people who get indigestion will experience these symptoms, so if you have any questions, a doctor will be able to provide practical advice you can use to tackle them.

However, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible if you: 

  • Throw up blood, or notice blood in your poo
  • Are unable to stop vomiting
  • Find it difficult to swallow food
  • Feel a lump in your stomach
  • Lose a lot of weight for no obvious reason

These symptoms could be a sign of something more serious, so a doctor will be able to recommend your next course of action.

Talk to a Doctor About Indigestion
Bloating from Indigestion
Causes of indigestion

What Causes Indigestion?

Indigestion occurs when stomach acid and/or food enters the oesophagus (throat). It’s sometimes known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).

In addition to a burning sensation, you might also experience frequent burping, bloating, nausea or have difficulty swallowing. Heartburn is usually caused by a weakening of the muscle at the bottom of your throat. There could be a number of reasons for this:
  • Smoking
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol, coffee or chocolate
  • A high fat diet
  • Hiatus hernia
  • Stomach issues
  • Certain medicines - speak to a doctor for more information about possible side effects

Your discomfort might also be to do with stomach acids irritating your stomach lining, or this lining becoming overly stretched due to overeating.

Being overweight is a known indigestion trigger, as this places more pressure on your stomach after a meal.

Indigestion is also particularly notorious for affecting pregnant women. This is thought to be due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, but of course any of the above factors could also make the situation worse.

See a Doctor About Your Indigestion
Indigestion irritating stomach lining
treatment of indigestion

How Can You Treat Indigestion?

In the short term, medicines such as antacids and alginates will control your stomach acid and prevent it from regurgitating into your throat. If you know when your symptoms are likely to occur, you can time your medication around them.

Of course, in the long term you want to prevent indigestion from occurring at all. The list of causes above should give you some idea of what you can do to help yourself. Quitting smoking, drinking less and maintaining a healthy diet and weight are all ways you can make it less likely that indigestion will return.

If you try all these things and still don’t see any improvement, a doctor will likely recommend further tests to get a more detailed look at why you might be experiencing these symptoms.

Our doctors will be able to walk you through the possible reasons for your indigestion and suggest both short and long-term steps you can take to deal with it.

Talk to a Doctor About Indigestion