To diagnose indigestion, the doctor asks about the person’s current symptoms and medical history and performs a physical examination. The doctor may order x rays of the stomach and small intestine.
The doctor may perform blood, breath, or stool tests if the type of bacteria that causes peptic ulcer disease is suspected as the cause of indigestion.
The doctor may perform an upper endoscopy. After giving a sedative to help the person become drowsy, the doctor passes an endoscope—a long, thin tube that has a light and small camera on the end—through the mouth and gently guides it down the esophagus into the stomach. The doctor can look at the esophagus and stomach with the endoscope to check for any abnormalities. The doctor may perform biopsies—removing small pieces of tissue for examination with a microscope—to look for possible damage from GERD or an infection.
Because indigestion can be a sign of a more serious condition, people should see a doctor right away if they experience
• frequent vomiting
• blood in vomit
• weight loss or loss of appetite
• black tarry stools
• difficult or painful swallowing
• abdominal pain in a nonepigastric area
• indigestion accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, or pain that radiates to the jaw, neck, or arm
• symptoms that persist for more than 2 weeks