Indigestion: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

What to ask your doctor?

Be sure to consume fluids with every meal, as this helps to move food through the digestive tract. It may help to know that although functional dyspepsia’s a pain, it’s not dangerous. A one-month trial of acid-suppressing treatment (proton pump inhibitors or PPIs) is often prescribed.

In rare cases, recurring bouts of indigestion can be a symptom of stomach cancer. Some people may get bouts of indigestion from helicobacter infection and, in these cases, getting rid of the bug with antibiotics (eradication) will help. However, many cases of indigestion are not caused by helicobacter, and in these cases eradication will not get rid of symptoms. Helicobacter infection is very common. It may lead to stomach ulcers or, rarely, stomach cancer.

In this theoretical situation, we can’t see the abnormality with the naked eye or the microscope, but we can measure it. If we can measure an associated or causative abnormality, should the disease no longer be considered functional, even though the disease (symptoms) are being caused by abnormal function?

Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the GI tract, usually in the small intestine or colon. The lag time between initial symptoms and diagnosis can be years, and bloating is one of the early symptoms. Crohn’s can cause narrowing of the intestines and ultimately lead to a bowel obstruction, resulting in severe bloating, weight loss, and nausea and vomiting after meals. Diarrhea with blood is typical when Crohn’s occurs in the colon.

Related to Heartburn / GERD

bloated indigestion

Examples of conditions in which acute or chronic delays in gastric emptying are observed in the absence of mechanical obstruction are given in Table 83.1. The causes of the impaired gastric emptying in many of these conditions remain incompletely understood. Gastric emptying may be altered variably by vagotomy and a variety of surgical procedures, which sometimes lead to dumping, but occasionally lead to chronic gastric retention with nutritional compromise and occasional formation of bezoars.

Many drugs are frequently associated with indigestion, for example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen), antibiotics, and estrogens). In fact, most drugs are reported to cause indigestion in at least some people with functional symptoms. A detailed history from the patient and a physical examination frequently will suggest the cause of dyspepsia. Routine screening blood tests often are performed looking for clues to unsuspected diseases.

Heartburn, the most frequent symptom of gastroesophageal reflux, is experienced variably in response to esophagitis caused by the reflux of irritant acid peptic or, occasionally, alkaline gastric or gastroduodenal content. Presumably such reflux is most often the consequence of an incompetent lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a manometrically demonstrable segment of high pressure normally maintained at the junction of the esophagus with the stomach. Factors influencing gastroesophageal reflux and its effects include the competency of the LES, the volume of gastric content, the quantity and corrosiveness of the refluxed material, the clearance of this material by the esophagus, and local esophageal tissue resistance. Delayed gastric emptying also may contribute to symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux in some patients.

It’s caused by acid reflux, which occurs when the oesophageal sphincter fails to prevent stomach acid from moving back up into your oesophagus. You may have indigestion if you take certain types of medication. Some medicines, such as nitrates (taken to widen your blood vessels) relax the oesophageal sphincter (ring of muscle between your oesophagus and your stomach), which allows acid to leak back up.

Symptoms similar to indigestion may be caused by heart attacks. If indigestion is unusual, accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, chest pain, or pain radiating to the jaw, neck, or arm, seek medical attention immediately. Swallowing excessive air when eating may increase the symptoms of belching and bloating, which are often associated with indigestion. Most episodes of indigestion go away within hours without medical attention.

How Castle Connolly Connects Consumers and ‘Top Doctors’

Gitnick has patients keep a food journal to see if overeating or choosing the wrong foods affects their stomach pain. In addition to foods that may trigger indigestion, smoking can be a cause, as well as drinking coffee and alcohol. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, overseen by the National Institutes of Health, recommends that if you’re a smoker and you’re not ready to quit, at least try not to smoke before eating. People with acid reflux, stomach flu, irritable bowel, and other conditions may experience indigestion. Find out about the top 10 foods that are easy to digest and may be suitable for these people to include in their diet.

bloated indigestion

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