Dyspepsia - Causes, Cures and Treatment
Dyspepsia, or indigestion, is an uncomfortable fullness feeling after meals. Dyspepsia can cause a feeling of abdominal discomfort accompanied by bloating, nausea, belching, heartburn, upset stomach and sometimes vomiting. Indigestion is a common problem, and easily treatable and preventable. The feeling of indigestion is often felt in the upper middle part of your stomach, and can be inconsistent. Indigestion is common among all people, all ages, women and men. One in every four people experience dyspepsia at some time.
Dyspepsia can be caused by consuming certain foods and drinks. Drinking wine and carbonated beverages have been targeted as culprits of indigestion. Overeating and eating too rapidly are also causes for this problem. There are also things that make indigestion worse, like spicy foods, high-fiber foods, fatty foods and excessive intake of caffeine.
Causes of Dyspepsia
Dyspepsia is often caused by eating too quickly, or overeating. It can also be caused by greasy and fatty foods, tobacco smoking, spicy foods and excessive alcohol intake. Indigestion can also be caused by emotional trauma and nerves, or more serious problems like cholecystitis, inflammation of the gallbladder; gastritis, inflammation of the stomach; or pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas. These three conditions can be acute or chronic and require a doctor’s attention. Dyspepsia can also be caused by a duodenal or gastric ulcer, or antibiotics, aspirin and non-steroidal antiflammatory drugs.
Dyspepsia can also be attributed to a stomach ulcer or acid reflux disease. Acid reflux disease causes stomach acid to back up into your esophagus, the tube connecting your mouth and stomach. The result is pain the chest. If you are having these problems, you should see a doctor to discover if you have acid reflux or a stomach ulcer which keeps causing your dyspepsia.
In some cases, dyspepsia is linked to stomach ulcers or stomach cancers. If you have dyspepsia, and you are over 50 years of age, have trouble swallowing, severe vomiting and bowels, or feel a mass in your stomach area, you should see a doctor about this condition. If you have a stomach ulcer, and are already taking medication, it could be the medication which is causing the dyspepsia. Just be sure to consult with your doctor and detail the problems you are experiencing.
But most of the time, indigestion is harmless and can be treated with over-the-counter medications and by altering a person’s diet and eating habits, and recognizing the contributing factors to the problem and avoiding them.
Cures and Treatment of Dyspepsia
There are many things a person can do at home to prevent or avoid dyspepsia or indigestion. Eat slowly and allow time for meals. Do not eat rapidly or in a hurry. Try to eat your meals without any other distractions or conflicts. Avoid exercise or activity immediately after meals as well. The activity can cause the acid in your stomach to be disrupted and more likely to give you indigestion, or cause acid reflux. Also, stay away from chewing gum. It can cause you to swallow more air, a contributing factor to indigestion. Stress can also be a factor in dyspepsia. Try to eat in a calm environment; it will help in digestion if your dyspepsia is stress-induced.
When taking pain medicine, opt for acetaminophen or Tylenol instead of aspirin or NSAIDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen, found in the brand name drug, Aleve or ibuprofen, found in Advil or Motrin. Also, take pain medications with a full stomach and with a full glass of water. Hydration can help as well in preventing indigestion.
Over-the-counter medications found in drug stores can also relieve dyspepsia, or indigestion. Antacids can also help in relieving this problem. Stronger medications like Prilosec can be effective in preventing indigestion, while ranitidine found in the brand-name drug called Zantac is good for relief of significant indigestion.
There are also other things a person can do besides taking medication to relieve this problem. Avoid smoking; if you smoke, stop smoking immediately – it will help lessen your symptoms. Try to remember the foods that cause the indigestion, and stay away from them. Reducing stress is also very important, especially if your dyspepsia is stress-induced. If you suffer from acid reflux disease, avoid eating anything before going to bed or lying down. By lying down, the stomach acid is more likely to come back into the esophagus. If you have bad acid reflux, it helps to also raise the head of your bed so that you are somewhat upright instead of lying down.
However, you should call your doctor if you experience symptoms of dyspepsia for several days or over a long period of time, or if the patterns and symptoms change significantly. You should also seek a doctor’s care if you are experiencing sudden or severe abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, jaundice (the yellow coloring of the skin and eyes) or vomit blood or pass blood in stool. You may also experience jaw pain, chest and back pain, excessive sweating or anxiety. These are symptoms of a serious dyspepsia problem, which could indicate a stomach ulcer or early signs of stomach cancer, especially in older people. Under a doctor’s care, medicine can be prescribed to relieve the symptoms.
When you go to the doctor, be prepared to answer questions about your eating and lifestyle habits. The doctor may ask you about the effect of particular foods, changes in diets, or intake of caffeine or alcohol. The doctor may also ask you about abdominal pain, vomiting and other symptoms you might have. An endoscopy or abdominal ultrasound may be performed to diagnose severe dyspepsia.
Indigestion is common among people, and can be easily treatable by changes in behavior or food choices. Elevated indigestion, dyspepsia is also treatable, but can be more serious. See a doctor if the upper and middle stomach pain persists, or is there most of the time. There is effective medicine to treat the symptoms of this problem.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health Medline Plus.
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Matters.