Indigestion is an uncomfortable feeling in the chest caused by excess acid in the stomach. Symptoms include abdominal pain, fullness, nausea, heartburn and bloating. It is usually due to over eating or certain types of rich foods, but it can also be caused by underlying medical issues. As a result, indigestion makes functioning and sleeping almost impossible because of the increasing burning sensation. Read on to learn how to get rid of indigestion.
How to Identify and Treat the Causes of Indigestion
Understand the main causes of chronic indigestion. As the name suggests, indigestion is most commonly associated with food and drink. Eating too much and too fast, excess alcohol, consumption of less easily digestible foods can all cause abdominal pain dues to acid reflux. Chronic indigestion, however, can be associated with several other problems. These are:
- Functional dyspepsia (no obvious clinical abnormality)
- Medications (e..g. non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), aspirin)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Gastro-oesophageal refluxdisease (GORD)
- Gastroparesis (failure of the stomach to empty properly)
- Helicobacter pylori infection
- Stomach ulcers
- Cancer of the stomach
Examine your indigestion further if you experience it more than 3 times per week. If you fear it is a more serious digestive condition, you should seek treatment with your doctor instead of using home remedies.
- Research whether it could be acid reflux. Acid reflux happens when the acid from the stomach leaks into the throat. It is common with people who are obese, pregnant or eat a high-fat diet. You should change your diet and seek medication that can stop stomach acid before it causes indigestion.
- Research whether it could be a peptic ulcer. A stomach ulcer is a sore that develops in the stomach lining. It is caused by H. Pylori bacteria or the overuse of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. It is usually accompanied by sharp abdomen pain and indigestion. You should seek treatment immediately with antibiotics, since H. Pylori can eventually lead to stomach cancer. Your doctor can also reduce the acid in your stomach, allowing the sore to heal.
Take doctor-recommended antacids to relieve indigestion throughout pregnancy. Pregnancy, perhaps not surprisingly because of the pressure it exerts on the digestive system, is often associated with indigestion.
- Although there is a lot of reluctance and fear surrounding taking medications during pregnancy nowadays, it it is unlikely that antacids or alginates will have any negative effect on the unborn baby.
- However, feel free to consult your physician if you are still unsure.
Make dietary changes to alleviate chronic indigestion caused by IBS. Chronic indigestion is one of the most common symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), a condition characterized by persistent abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and alteration of bowel habits. The cause of IBS is unknown and not detectable via any tests.
- The best treatment strongly depends upon the particular symptoms of discomfort experienced by the patient, however dietary changes are often effective in alleviating symptoms.
Switch to alternative medications. Sometimes, chronic indigestion is a side effect of long-term medication use, such as with NSAIDs and aspirin.
- Aspirin is known to cause other intestinal problems such as bleeding, so its long term use is not usually advocated.
- If indigestion is caused by a particular drug, then consulting your doctor about changing to another medication may be the answer.
Seek medical treatment for chronic indigestion cause by GERD. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is caused by a persistent abnormal leakage of HCl from the stomach. The associated indigestion may be treated using medications, lifestyle changes or even surgery, depending on the severity of the illness.
Take specific medications to relieve indigestion caused by gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a condition where the stomach cannot empty properly as a result of nerve damage. It is sometimes associated with diabetes.
- There is no satisfactory treatment for this condition but metoclopramide, a dopamine antagonist, helps to contract the stomach thus preventing associated symptoms such as indigestion.
- Specialist care is required.
Undergo specialist treatment for indigestion caused by stomach ulcers or cancer. Stomach ulcers and cancers can only be accurately assessed and treated by competent specialists. Adequate treatment of these problems may help any associated indigestion.
- In the meantime, symptomatic relief can be obtained by consuming antacids, alginates or H2-antagonists.
How to Cure Indigestion
Take the prescribed medication to treat the medical condition that is causing your indigestion.
Avoid sleeping flat on your back if you are suffering from indigestion. If you opt, instead, to elevate your head while you are sleeping, it will decrease the sensation of acid reflux. This is because the elevated position stops the acid from rising to your chest.
Steep some peppermint or ginger tea. Peppermint tea has an extremely soothing effect on the entire digestive system. Putting ginger in tea seems to be especially effective for people who are pregnant.
Chew on antacids over-the-counter to help calm any indigestion caused by too much gas or acid reflux. With so many options on the market, you should be able to find one that reduces indigestion quickly. Take an antacid that contains the ingredient “alginate.” This ingredient has been shown to lower the acidity of your stomach.
Stop eating immediately when you begin to feel stomach discomfort. Your body will need time to process the food you have already eaten.
Drink small sips of water to flush the food through your system. Avoid taking large gulps of water or tea, because they can cause more stomach discomfort. However, a steady stream of sips throughout the rest of the day should help calm and flush the stomach.
Take a walk around the block after eating. Moving slowly while you are upright can help the stomach to digest.
Stay upright for 3 to 4 hours before going to bed. Laying down can make the symptoms worse, because stomach acid can rise higher in your esophagus.
Eat mild and soft foods while you are recovering. Focus on low-fat foods as well.
Look for home remedies to help ease the discomfort of indigestion. You should check with your doctor first before trying these or any other indigestion home cures.
- Try drinking a glass of warm water mixed with 1 tsp. of baking soda and a squirt of lemon juice. This concoction should help neutralize a sour stomach. Note that this remedy should not be used regularly because the baking soda is not conducive to a low sodium diet. Additionally, baking soda may be damaging to the stomach, so check with your doctor first before opting for this remedy.
- Consider a cup of chamomile or mint tea to help dissolve the feeling of indigestion. Immerse the teabag of your choice into a cup of boiling water, and allow your tea to brew for 10 minutes. Drink your tea slowly.
- Create a 4-seed Asian mix to chew on that will help cure heartburn caused by extra gas. Combine a blend of anise, dill, fennel, and caraway seeds in equal 1 tsp. portions. Blend the mix before slowly chewing about 1/2 tsp. at a time.
- Calm indigestion by eating some candied ginger. You can find this candy at grocery stores or health food stores. This is also a good remedy for small children.
- Place 1 tsp. (5 g) of fresh ginger into a cup and cover with boiling water, and then strain the tea and sip.
- Eat a few pieces of sliced pineapple before your meal. Pineapple has proteolytic enzymes, which help the body digest quickly, avoiding the causes of indigestion.
- Chew on anise seeds, fennel seeds or fresh parsley, which helps to relieve an upset stomach and indigestion.
Contact your doctor if your indigestion persists. You should not ignore consistent feelings of pain in the chest, especially if it’s accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath and nausea. Your symptoms could be associated with a more serious condition.
Medical Treatments for Indigestion
Get a prescription for anti-emetic or anti-vomiting drugs. One of the most prescribed anti-emetic drugs is metoclopramide.
- It works by blocking dopamine receptors in the brain in an area known as the chemoreceptor trigger zone, which is mainly responsible for activating the vomiting reflex.
- The recommended dose is 10 to 15 mg orally four times a day.
Take acid reducers or H2 blockers. One of the main causes of chronic indigestion is excessive stomach acid which leaks upwards into the esophagus and causes discomfort.
- H2 blockers work by reducing the production of stomach acid. This makes the stomach contents less acidic so that when they leak into the esophagus, it is now less irritating.
- The most prescribed H2 blocker is ranitidine. Its recommended daily dose is 75 mg orally once a day.
Use proton pump inhibitors to reduce the quantity of stomach acid. Proton pump inhibitors work by blocking a chemical system called the hydrogen-potassium adenosine triphosphatase enzyme system, also known as the “proton pump”.
- This system is responsible for producing stomach acids. If the level of stomach acid is low, then the abdominal pain in chronic indigestion can be minimized.
Use antidepressants for pain relief. NSAIDs are not given to patients with chronic indigestion to relieve abdominal pain because these drugs can irritate the intestinal lining and may aggravate the condition. Instead, antidepressants are prescribed for pain relief.
- Antidepressants aid in pain relief by reducing the ability of the nerve cells to reabsorb brain chemicals such as serotonin and noradrenaline. These chemicals accumulate outside the nerve cells if they are not reabsorbed. This results in the inhibition of pain messages to the spinal cord.
- Amitriptyline is usually prescribed for this purpose. Its therapeutic dose is 10 to 25 mg daily, which is gradually increased by an increment of 10 or 25 mg each week.
How to Prevent Indigestion
Attempt to remedy heartburn discomfort by learning the best ways to prevent it. For example, consume a glass of warm water mixed with 1 tsp. each of apple cider vinegar and honey 30 minutes before eating your meal. Additionally, you could avoid eating the foods that cause your indigestion, refrain from eating in excess and stop exercising after eating.
Eat in a relaxing environment without tension.
Don’t talk while you are chewing.
Chew your food well. Help your digestive system by chewing food 20 to 50 times before swallowing.
Lose weight. People who are overweight or obese have more pressure sitting on their stomach, which forces stomach acid upward.
Eat smaller meals. Your indigestion can be caused by overeating. Eat off of a smaller plate, or eat 2 smaller dinners rather than 1 big dinner.
Reduce your alcohol and/or caffeine consumption. Both can cause indigestion and fill the stomach with hard to digest liquids.
Trade high-fat or processed foods for fiber-rich foods. Produce and whole grains in reasonable quantities can make your entire digestive system perform better.
Avoid spicy foods. In many cuisines, spicy and fatty foods are combined, both of which lead to indigestion. Reduce consumption of these foods, and try to eat them only once per week.
Don’t wash your foods down with fluids. Drink water or other drinks a half hour before or two hours after your meal. This is more important as you get older.
Plan your meals well before you plan to go to bed. Late night meals cause more indigestion than earlier meals because you are more likely to lay down right after and have a problem with acid.
- If you must eat a late-night meal, get up and walk around for 10 to 30 minutes, and sleep while propped up.
Stop smoking. The mechanics of opening up the airways repeatedly, before, during and after eating can cause acid reflux and indigestion. Quitting smoking can take away the problem entirely.
- Do not drink peppermint tea if your indigestion is caused by gastroesopageal influx disease.
- Contact your physician if you have been previously diagnosed with a health condition that may be causing or aggravating your indigestion.
- Do not take antacids or other medications if you are currently taking prescription medication. Consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking indigestion medication with prescription medication to avoid drug interactions.
- Seek medical attention if you are experiencing severe or chronic indigestion, which may be an indication of a more severe medical problem.
- Acid reflux can damage your esophagus, so it needs to be addressed. Changing your eating behaviors may be enough, but if it persists, see your doctor.
- Keep aluminum free baking soda (Arm & Hammer is aluminum free) nearby. For relief, starting within 30 to 45 seconds, mix a small spoon of baking soda in 1/2 glass of water. Mix vigorously, start sipping, not too fast though, ash can cause severe pain if done too quickly or you use too much baking soda.
- Elevate the head of the bed 20 or so degrees; prop up that end 5 or 6 inches or more.
- Keep track of what seems to exacerbate your symptoms. Write in a diary or notebook.
- Have your last meal of the day about two to three hours before retiring; this gives plenty of time for digesting it properly.