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Indigestion – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Terminology for digestive diseases is quite controversial. Different authors give differing definitions and ascribe diverse features to the same health problems. Some of them assert that dyspepsia is just a medical term for indigestion, others insist on substantial difference between these terms. Is dyspepsia a type of indigestion or quite the contrary – is not clear enough.

One more suggestion even equates dyspepsia with the heartburn. Within this article I incline to use following definitions:

Indigestion – is a term for different digestive symptoms (pain and discomfort in abdomen or chest, gas, wind, diarrhea, nausea, etc.) that can develop after a meal.

Dyspepsia – is a medical term for mentioned symptoms when the cause is not clear.

Heartburn – painful sensation behind the breast bone caused by rising up of acid from the stomach into the gullet. It could be referred to indigestion (dyspepsia) symptoms.

Inasmuch as term indigestion covers a wide range of conditions the number of possible causes and symptoms is pretty large. Everything that may overburden or complicate stomach’s function we can consider as a cause of indigestion. Among them overeating, drinking excess alcohol, smoking, irregular and fast meals, fatty or spicy foods, significant caffeine intake, drugs (aspirin and other anti-inflammatory), stresses, exercising after a meal, etc. Problems with digestion may cause such states and diseases as obesity, pregnancy, hiatus hernia, cholecystitis, gastritis, pancreatitis or peptic ulcer.

Symptoms of indigestion (or dyspepsia) may vary depending on the cause, stage and body’s peculiarities. The most common are: pain in the upper abdomen or chest, back pain, nausea, vomiting, flatulence, burping, belching, abdominal bloating, profuse sweating and loss of appetite. Enduring indigestion may lead to serious gastrointestinal problems.

The principal point in diagnostics of dyspepsia is to rule out other possible ailments. Breath and blood tests are used to detect H-pylori, bacteria that cause gastritis.

Another method is barium meal X-ray when patient swallows a drink containing barium that shows up on an X-ray picture. Gastroscopy and biopsy are another two ways to find out more about the stomach. Besides already mentioned, ultrasound examination, CT or MRI scan may also be employed to diagnose various digestive infirmities.

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To prevent or deal with indigestion first of all think about your lifestyle and diet. Regular healthy meals, refusal from smoking and excessive drinking, avoidance of stressful situations will reduce the risk of dyspepsia.

In the case when the level of stomach acid produces indigestion the treatment may include antacids (chemicals which neutralize the acid), H2 antagonists or proton pump inhibitors (to reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach), bismuth, sucralfate or carbonoxolone (for coating the stomach lining to protect it against acid-attack). Pro-kinetic agents may also be prescribed to increase stomach movement for better emptying. The state of our digestive system is entirely determined by what we make it to digest. To be in a harmony with your stomach take care about it: don’t feed it with poisons and your problems.


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