Indigestion is not a disease but maybe a sign or symptom of a disease. Around 20 percent of the American population suffers from this medical condition, and often stomach upsets are relieved on its own. Below are the common symptoms which may indicate you are suffering from bouts of indigestion:
- Abdominal pain
- Burning feeling in the abdomen
- Abdominal Bloating
Indigestion Facts and misconceptions
Gas is often passed out through flatulence or belching because of the increased acid production in the stomach. Introduction of food in the stomach increases acid production. With this in mind, people found to be suffering from ulcers are advised to take frequent light meals instead of the normal three heavy meals. One misconception is that eating food alleviates the pain in ulcers when it fact it increases acid production.
Indigestion and heartburn are often interchanged. Indigestion is usually a symptom of heartburn (GERD). However, indigestion is an entirely different medical condition.
Causes of indigestion or stomach upset are overeating and eating types of foods which may not agree with your stomach. People may have eaten something which may have been undercooked, steaks which may be rare or medium rare for example. Some types of foods make the stomach work twice as hard, making it difficult for the stomach to break them down. Other people may have problems eating certain types of foods which cause increased acid production.
Pregnancy can also cause indigestion. Pregnant women are advised to eat small frequent meals because of their condition. The developing baby exerts pressure on the stomach. When heavy meals are taken, normal stomach expansion does not happen because of the baby’s presence.
Overeating also causes indigestion. There is just too much food so that your stomach can not digest everything. Meals which are not taken at regular times also cause indigestion.
Psychological factors such as stress can also cause indigestion. Smoking and drinking alcohol also cause stomach upsets. Cigarettes and alcohol contain chemicals which may irritate the stomach and cause people to suffer indigestion.
For people suffering from chronic indigestion or those which lasts for days and accompanied by other symptoms, it is important that they consult their doctors for medication. Indigestion is one of the most common symptoms for digestive deseases and disorders.
Dyspepsia maybe classified as organic or functional. The two types are differentiated by the factors which cause indigestion.
Dyspepsia is classified as organic when the medical condition is a result of a medical disease or known cause. Common causes include diseases such as chronic peptic ulcer, chronic pancreatitis, gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD), gallstones and other major digestive diseases.
Indigestion or dyspepsia is classified as functional when the factors which cause it are unknown or undefined. Indigestion maybe caused by abnormal motor functions which interfere with the normal digestive process. Examples of these may be psychological in nature, such as stress or other factors such as smoking. Older people are also more susceptible with bouts of indigestion, as normal digestive system movements or peristalsis decrease with age.
Treatment of Indigestion
Although stomach upsets or indigestion are often treated by simple medications such as antacids, people suffering from chronic indigestion should consult their doctors as frequent indigestion might be a symptom of a more complicated disease.
An ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure; it is definitely more economical too. Indigestion is a fairly common medical condition which is caused by simple lifestyle habits. Understanding which types of food don’t agree with your stomach can go a long way in preventing indigestion.
Knowing your limits in terms of the amount of food eaten and the alcohol consumed can reduce the amount of acids produced by the stomach. Learning to eat meals at regular intervals and avoiding stressful situations could reduce instances of upset stomachs. Resting after eating is one way of avoiding indigestion, letting your body undergo the process of digestion before exercising and working is also advised.
Taking medications such as antacids which reduces acidity in the stomach provides relief from discomforts suffered from indigestion. Antacids don’t reduce the production of acids in the stomach but they neutralize its acidity. This is similar to adding sugar in coffee to reduce its bitter taste.
Next to the common cold, stomach upsets are one of the major reasons why people miss work or school. Indigestion or stomach upset is common, and it is often seen after taking in large meals during celebrations and holidays.
Stomach upset or indigestion are terms that have been used to describe many symptoms associated with digestive conditions. Stomach upsets are so common that they are often dismissed as simple colds or fever. But unlike colds and fevers, when bouts of indigestion continue for long periods of time they might signal that a person is suffering from a more serious medical condition.
Eating right and having regular meals during the day could go a long way in preventing indigestion. When holidays come and for sure they will, it is always important to remember to eat in moderation. Other factors such as stress and smoking have also been discovered as contributing factors to indigestion. Smoking and drinking is a personal choice we make, but drinking too much and smoking has been discovered to cause serious medical diseases.
written by Ronald Uy, RN
© 2009 H.I.C. Digestive Health
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