What is it?
Dyspepsia also called indigestion or upset stomach is a feeling of unease or pain in the upper abdomen. It is not a disease by itself but a symptom caused by various digestive conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, or gallbladder disease.
Indigestion affects people of all ages and is very common. Some of the factors contributing to indigestion include,
- Excess intake of alcohol and smoking,
- Some emotional issues like anxiety, stress, and depression.
Even though indigestion is not a serious health condition, if left untreated, it may become one. Dyspepsia can cause the patient to eat less making him/her unhealthy in the process and then affect their day-to-day activities. Hence, it is necessary to consult a doctor and find the cause of dyspepsia right away.
Some of the symptoms for dyspepsia are as following,
- Burning in the stomach
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Gas trouble
- Nausea and vomiting
- Acid taste
- Growling in the stomach
If the patient exhibits the following severe symptoms then immediate medical assistance is recommended,
- Vomiting blood
- Sudden weight loss
- Stool that looks like black tar or presence of blood in the stool
- Severe pain in the abdomen
- Trouble swallowing
- Fatigue or weakness
There are a variety of causes for indigestion these include diseases, medications and lifestyle habits. Some of the common causes of dyspepsia are,
- Stomach cancer
- Gastroparesis mostly occurs in diabetic people. It is a condition where the digestion is not carried out properly in the stomach.
- Stomach infections
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Thyroid disease
- Medications such as aspirin and other pain relievers such as ibuprofen, oral contraceptives, and estrogen, steroid medications, some antibiotics and thyroid medications.
- Certain lifestyle habits such as eating more than necessary, eating too fast or eating high-fat, spicy or greasy food, tobacco smoking and drinking of alcohol and caffeine products.
Since indigestion is a symptom, the doctor might recommend the following diagnostic tests, which may be conducted on the severity of the condition in order to test for diseases related to indigestion.
The doctor usually starts off with a complete physical examination along with laboratory tests such as blood, breath and stool tests. Some of the diagnostic tests that doctors opt for are:
- Upper GI Endoscopy where the doctor will use an endoscope, a flexible tube with a camera at one end to see the upper lining of the Gastrointestinal (GI) or digestive tract. The doctor will search for any abnormalities present in the upper GI. A sample of tissue might be taken for biopsy analysis.
- Diagnostic Imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scan will help check for any intestinal obstruction or any another issue.
Treatment methods for indigestion include,
- Instead of eating three large meals, eating six small meals help ease indigestion
- Reduce or stop the intake of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine
- Reducing high fat, spicy or greasy food items
- Controlling stress and anxiety
- Avoid food with high content of acid such as lemon, tomatoes etc.
- Avoid painkillers and other medications that trigger indigestion
- Don’t lie down or exercise right after a meal
- If the condition persists, certain medications such as
- Proton pump inhibitors can help reduce stomach acid,
- Prokinetics will be helpful if the stomach empties slowly,
- Antibiotics will help if certain bacteria are the cause for indigestion.
- Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications might also help ease indigestion, in some cases.