Have you ever felt that your stomach feels tight or bloated after meals associated with or without heartburn? Sounds familiar, right? Improve digestive system.
This is indigestion. It is also called dyspepsia.
Indigestion can occur as a single entity but it generally occurs because of the underlying disease conditions such as ulcers, or acid reflux disease, etc.
Here we will discuss what causes indigestion and how to avoid it.
Causes of indigestion
Indigestion is a common problem in both, men and women, irrespective of the age. Some people are more prone to indigestion than others. Certain causes that can trigger indigestion are:
- Overeating, eating too fast or eating high-fat foods
- Diseases like- ulcers, GERD, infections, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), gastroparesis, stomach cancer (very rare), etc.
- Certain medications can also cause indigestion. They are pain killers like aspirin, birth control medications, antibiotics, steroids, thyroid medications, etc.
People may also have chronic (for a long time) indigestion which may not be related to any of these causes. This type of indigestion is called functional or non-ulcer dyspepsia.
A lot of women experience indigestion during the second and last trimester of pregnancy. It can possibly be because of the hormones that relax the muscles of the digestive tract or due to the pressure of the growing baby on the stomach.
Symptoms of indigestion:
- Heaviness/tightness in the abdomen after meals
- Bloating, Gas
- Nausea, Vomiting
- Cramps in your stomach
- Burning sensation in the upper abdomen
- Pain in the abdomen
Stress tends to aggravate these symptoms. With the attempt to remove the excess air, you tend to swallow too much air by your mouth, and this can worsen your bloating and burping.
People, who have indigestion, often also complain about heartburn (burning sensation in the chest). This happens when there is acid reflux (stomach acid rises in the esophagus)
How is indigestion diagnosed?
Your doctor will take a detailed history regarding your symptoms, you may be asked for a blood test, an x-ray of the stomach or small intestine. Your doctor may also ask you for an endoscopy (examination to look closely at the inside of the stomach using a thin, flexible tube with a light and a camera connected to it).
Indigestion usually subsides within a few hours. This may not require any treatment. But, if this condition persists and affects the daily routine, your doctor may give you certain medications.
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), reduce stomach acid. PPIs are suggested when there is heartburn along with indigestion.
- H-2-receptor antagonists (H2RAs), they also reduce stomach acid.
- Antibiotics for H.pylori induced indigestion
- Anti-anxiety medicines, they ease the discomfort by decreasing your sensation of pain.
How to prevent indigestion?
- Eat small frequent meals, eat slowly
- Avoid acidic fruits like citrus fruits and tomatoes etc.
- Manage your stress, learn relaxation techniques, try yoga
- Avoid alcohol
- Quit smoking
- Don’t exercise immediately after meals, do not lie down after meals
Herbal therapy for indigestion
Various herbs are known for their digestive properties.
Terminalia chebula and Zingiber officinale act as powerful appetizers, prokinetics, and stimulants of digestive enzymes for a healthy digestive system.
Aegle marmelos and Pongamia glabra have been shown to be gastroprotective.
You can also try OJUS – a complete digestive aid formulated by Charak Pharma. It includes a combination of herbs such as Terminalia chebula, Zingiber officinale, Piper longum, Pongamia glabra, Aegle marmelos, etc. OJUS improves digestion and relieves dyspepsia through its effect on the secretion of digestive enzymes, motility of GI tract.