Though they both have similar triggers, and treatment may be the same in many instances, indigestion isn’t the same thing as heartburn. Indigestion is the condition, and heartburn occasionally is a symptom of indigestion.
Excess abdominal fat can press against the stomach, forcing acids up into the esophagus. Follow a diet and exercise program to shed extra pounds. You may have heard that drinking a glass of milk can relieve heartburn. While it’s true that milk can temporarily buffer stomach acid, nutrients in milk, particularly fat, may stimulate the stomach to produce more acid.
Indigestion frequently occurs during pregnancy, however, most the time, the symptoms are heartburn caused by acid reflux. If indigestion is caused by medications, talk to your health-care professional about changing medications to ones that do not cause indigestion. Never stop taking a medication without the advice of your doctor. Most episodes of indigestion go away within hours without medical attention. If indigestion symptoms worsen, consult a health-care professional.
Symptoms of indigestion can include uncomfortable abdominal fullness after eating, or you may have pain or a burning sensation in your upper stomach. If you are overweight or obese, it is important to lose weight safely and steadily through regular exercise and by eating a healthy, balanced diet. See the Health A-Z topics about Obesity and Diet for more information. For most mild cases of indigestion (dyspepsia), treatment from your GP is not needed and making certain changes to your diet and lifestyle can control your symptoms.
Heartburn and acid reflux are the same thing – when acid from your stomach comes up your throat. You’ll have a burning feeling when this happens. This can be a symptom of indigestion. Stomach ache or back pain are usually not symptoms of indigestion.
They work by neutralising the acid in your stomach (making it less acidic), so that it no longer irritates the lining (mucosa) of your digestive system. If you have indigestion only occasionally with mild pain and discomfort, you may not need to see your GP for treatment.
A hiatus hernia occurs when part of your stomach pushes up into your diaphragm (the breathing muscle under your lungs), preventing your oesophageal sphincter from closing. This can allow stomach acid to travel back up into your oesophagus, leading to heartburn.
This makes a great remedy for childrenâ€™s minor stomach aches. A steaming cup of one of these teas will quickly dispel that dyspeptic feeling.
For most people, symptoms should go away within a few hours. As older adults and children can become dehydrated much more quickly, they should seek medical attention for vomiting and diarrhea that lasts for more than a day. People with an upset stomach could try adding 1 tsp of good-quality cinnamon powder, or an inch of cinnamon stick, to their meals. Alternatively, they could try mixing the cinnamon with boiling water to make a tea. Doing this two or three times daily may help to relieve indigestion.
It is important to educate patients with indigestion about their illness, particularly by reassuring them that the illness is not a serious threat to their physical health (though it may be to their emotional health). Patients need to understand the potential causes for the symptoms. Most importantly, they need to understand the medical approach to the problem and the reasons for each test or treatment. Education prepares patients for a potentially prolonged course of diagnosis and trials of treatment.