How to Deal with Indigestion

Illustration of bacteria under a magnifying glass in the bowels

Indigestion is a feeling of discomfort in the upper abdomen and chest. You also may feel bloated. There can be many factors associated with this discomfort.

Ulcers and gallbladder diseases can cause it or on a lighter note, it could have been something that you ate and didn’t agree with you. Food allergies are another possibility. Whatever the cause, indigestion can be uncomfortable and painful and can compromise a person’s otherwise normal lifestyle.

Frequent indigestion can also be a sign of a weak gut. People with a weak gut may suffer from frequently because their body struggles to digest complex foods. Since indigestion is not a long-term condition, it flares up occasionally or in some cases, more often and then dies down. Unfortunately, there is no continuous treatment for it. However, by eating healthy and avoiding unhealthy food choices, a person can mitigate the risk of getting indigestion.

What exactly is indigestion, and how can a person manage it are some of the most common questions that are asked about the condition. If you are also looking for answers, then continue reading.

Understanding Indigestion

Indigestion or dyspepsia can occur due to a bunch of reasons, but when it happens it can present itself through the following signs

      • Discomfort in the stomach
      • Abdominal Pain
      • Bloating
      • Nausea
      • Heartburn
      • Vomiting

Some other less common symptoms of indigestion are

      • Gas or belching in the abdomen
      • Gnawing sensation in the stomach
      • Burning sensation in the stomach
      • Feeling unnaturally full after eating a medium-sized meal
      • Feeling dull
      • Having difficulty finishing a meal

In the case of a severe episode of indigestion, a person may feel

      • Continuous vomiting
      • Vomiting with blood
      • Black stool
      • Trouble swallowing food

If you experience severe symptoms of indigestion, then visit your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room.

Causes of Indigestion

Fast Food Hamburger
Photo by Rajesh TP from Pexels

In everyday life, in the absence of an underlying cause, indigestion can occur due to overeating or eating too fast. Some people may face indigestion after consuming some specific types of food, such as spicy, greasy, or fatty food. Sometimes, lying down immediately after having food can also increase the chances of indigestion as the posture makes digestion harder for the body.

Some common causes of indigestion are

      • Smoking
      • Drinking too much alcohol
      • Exposure of the gut to complex foods (that are hard to digest like highly processed foods)

Sometimes. Some medicines can also cause indigestion. You must read the side effects of drugs before consuming them. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen are notorious for having side effects in some patients.

When a person has an underlying gut problem, they can experience indigestion quite frequently. Some frequent indigestion causing gastrointestinal conditions are

      • Acid Reflux Disease (GERD)
      • Gastric Cancer
      • Pancreatic or bile duct abnormalities
      • Peptic ulcers

Ulcers cause blisters and sores over the inner lining of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, which can lead to frequent indigestion.

Even though rare, but it’s possible that sometimes a person may experience indigestion without a known cause. That form of indigestion is known as functional dyspepsia. Functional dyspepsia or FD may come about due to the abnormal muscle movement of the gut. When the gastrointestinal lining in the body squeezes too tight while digesting food, a person can experience indigestion. And since, in such a case, there is no identifiable cause, a patient cannot take any measures to avoid abnormal muscle movement in the gut.

How can Indigestion be Diagnosed?

When you start experiencing frequent symptoms indicating dysfunction in your GI system, make an appointment with your doctor. The doctor will ask you detailed questions about your diet habits. They will also run some blood tests and get scans of your stomach to rule out any underlying conditions.

In some cases, the doctor may ask you to take a stool test to check the percentage of bacteria in your stool to rule out peptic ulcers.

If all the tests come out clean, then the doctor may suggest an endoscopy. During an endoscopy, the doctor inserts a tube with a camera inside your body to check the inner lining of your gut. An endoscopy helps to spot blisters and other telltale signs of a damaged lining. Using the procedure, the doctor can diagnose the following conditions (which is why a person may experience frequent indigestion)

      • Infection Cancer
      • Inflammatory diseases
      • Ulcers
      • Reflux esophagitis

Once the doctor figures out the underlying cause of indigestion in a patient, they can give them a line of action to manage the condition effectively

How to Treat Indigestion?

Specific medicines can help ease the symptoms of indigestion. However, they may have some other side effects occasionally. The most commonly prescribed drugs to treat indigestion are


Prokinetics are prescription medications like Motilium and Reglan that control the muscle movement in the gut and control motility. Motility is the uncontrolled movement of the muscles using metabolic energy. Some come side effects of prokinetic medicines are

      • Tiredness or Fatigue
      • Depression
      • Anxiety
      • Involuntary spasms or muscle movements

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)

PPIs reduced acid in the stomach that can considerably ease the symptoms during an episode of indigestion. However, like other medicines, PPIs can have other side effects on the body. Those side effects may include

      • Backache
      • Dizziness or grogginess
      • Abdominal pain
      • Cough
      • Constipation
      • Nausea and vomiting
      • Light-headedness or headache

H2 Receptor Antagonists

H2 receptor medicines like Zantac and Pepcid can significantly reduce stomach acid and hence, be useful in easing the symptoms of indigestion. Some common side effects of H2 receptor antagonists are

      • Rash with or without itching
      • Constipation
      • Bruising or bleeding
      • Headache
      • Diarrhea
      • Nausea or vomiting

Even though the chances of having an adverse reaction to consuming the mentioned medicines are slim to none, they are still a possibility.

Home Remedies

Some natural food items can help subside symptoms of indigestion substantially. The most common organic food choices for indigestion are

      • Chamomile tea
      • Peppermint tea
      • Apple cider vinegar
      • Ginger
      • Fennel Seeds
      • Lemon water

Incorporating these food items in your daily routine can bring down the frequency of indigestion in people.  

If you frequently face the problem of indigestion, then avoid greasy and spicy foods as much as possible and get yourself checked to rule out underlying medical conditions that can cause indigestion.