Indigestion - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


What is indigestion?

Indigestion has many different interpretations including heartburn, reflux, discomfort in the chest and upper belly after eating, belching and regurgitation. These symptoms of indigestion may be caused by acid reflux (Regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the gullet (Oesophagus), other rarer oesophageal problems or stomach (gastric) problems. It is rarely dangerous and is very common, at least 1 in 3 people suffering from one of these symptoms.
Please see our pages on heartburn and Barrett's oesophagus for more information.

How to treat indigestion?

There are a few lifestyle modifications which can be of help:
The first is to avoid eating late. and leave at least 4 hours before going to bed if you have had a heavy meal.
Meals high in fat also delay stomach emptying and increase reflux so avoid large, heavy meals
Irritating foods such as those high in spices (Chilli), vinegar and citrus fruits/juices should be avoided
Avoid caffeine
Reduce alcohol consumption

Medicines for indigestion

Antacids such as Gaviscon can reduce symptoms rapidly. Take them when your symptoms are most common, for example after food or before bed.
Medicines which reduce acid production include ranitidine (An H2 antagonist) and omeprazole (A proton pump inhibitor). These are best taken 30-60 minutes before food for the best effect. They can be bought in low dose in pharmacies but need a prescription for higher dose.
If any of your symptoms persist despite treatment, or you are older than 40 and the symptoms are new, we would suggest seeing your doctor.
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