Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is improper breakdown or absorption of food, caused due to numerous reasons. This is quite a common disorder which is experienced by people at some time in their lives. The human stomach produces acid which helps in digestion of the food. There is a mucous lining present in the stomach and the esophagus which protects these organs from the acid. Sometimes, due to certain reasons, this mucous lining gets damaged, which results in the inflammation of the stomach lining due to the stomach acid. On the other hand, certain foodstuffs can also trigger indigestion.
Irregular eating habits is the most common cause of indigestion. Extremely citrus, spicy or fried foods can build up the acid in the stomach causing upset stomach. Swallowing food very quickly leads to inhalation of excess air in the stomach which leads to bloating. Drinking excess alcohol and smoking also contribute a lot in frequent indigestion. It can also be a side effect of certain medications. On the other hand, excess stress, insomnia and anxiety can also cause indigestion.
Discomfort in the stomach and acid reflux are the common symptoms of indigestion. The following are the other symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Fullness in stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Acid reflux
The causes and symptoms of indigestion in men and women are the same, however, indigestion also occurs in women due to some other reasons. For e.g., indigestion is more commonly seen in women during pregnancy. This is due to the hormonal changes that take place in this phase. Indigestion is also one of the side effects of birth control pills. On the other hand, excess weight gain during pregnancy also leads to indigestion as the uterus exerts a pressure on the stomach. Gas or flatulence is the most common symptoms observed during pregnancy.
Indigestion is not a severe disorder and can be treated by taking over-the-counter medications. Antacids are very effective in treating it. Prescription medications like H2 blockers also help in treating it. However, if along with indigestion symptoms, chest pain, weight gain and persistent vomiting are also observed, one should consult the doctor immediately, as it may be a sign of some other complication. Indigestion with chest pain is often related to heart problems like heart attacks. In such cases, X-rays and blood tests can help in the diagnosis of other severe health problems.
Indigestion can be overcome by following certain preventive measures. Change in lifestyle and eating habits contributes a lot in preventing this condition. You should avoid or limit the intake of spicy and fried foodstuff, especially at night. You should also stop smoking and avoid consumption of alcohol totally. It is also advisable to eat food slowly and in smaller portions. You should not recline on the chair, lie down or go to bed immediately after having meals. It is recommended to go to bed 2-3 hours after having meals. It may seem strange but wearing clothes that fit tightly around the abdomen can also cause indigestion and hence, one should avoid them.
One should remember that indigestion is not a life-threatening condition but it can cause a lot of discomfort and health problems in older age. Therefore, one should try to prevent it as much as possible. This article is meant only to provide information and should not be substituted for proper treatment.