Suffering From Indigestion? Know The Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment From A Gastroenterologist

The medical term used for indigestion is dyspepsia. Check out the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment from an expert. Read on. 

Navya Kharbanda
Written by: Navya KharbandaUpdated at: Apr 11, 2021 11:00 IST
Suffering From Indigestion? Know The Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment From A Gastroenterologist

Dyspepsia, or also called indigestion or having a poor digestive system is basically the term used for discomfort in your upper abdomen. Indigestion is not a medical condition but just a few signs that indicate towards an experience, involving  abdominal pain and a feeling of fullness right after having your meal. Although indigestion is a common problem, but people who are suffering from indigestion, experience it in different ways. Symptoms of indigestion may be felt sometimes or even everyday in a lot of people. Indigestion can be a sign of an issue with your system. Indigestion that is not triggered by any underlying health condition, it can be dealt with lifestyle moderations and medicines. 

Common symptoms of dyspepsia are bloating, discomfort, feeling excessively  full, nausea, heartburn and gas. In most of the cases, it happens after eating or drinking. Making simple lifestyle moderations can often help in coping up with indigestion symptoms. Other causes include health conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and the intake of some medications. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Ajay Kumar, Chairman and HOD, Institute of Digestive and Liver Diseases at BLK Super Specialty Hospital and a Patron of SeekMed, about the symptoms, causes and treatment of indigestion or dyspepsia.

Indigestion symptoms


A person with indigestion might have one or more symptoms. In rare cases, people have symptoms such as vomiting and belching. Sometimes, people experiencing indigestion also have heartburn, but heartburn and indigestion are two different health conditions. Heartburn is a mainly pain or a burning sensation in the middle of your chest that can radiate to your neck or back during or after having food. According to Dr. Ajay, here are the symptoms of indigestion or dyspepsia:

  • Burning sensation
  • Bloating
  • Fuller feeling
  • Nausea
  • Vomitting
  • Belching

What causes indigestion?

Indigestion or dyspepsia has a lot of factors behind it. Usually, this problem is more associated with lifestyle habits and can be triggered by food, drinks or certain  medicines. According to Dr. Ajay, the main causes of indigestion or dyspepsia are:

1. Smoking

One major cause behind indigestion is smoking cigarettes. Smoking should be a avoided as much as possible for not just indigestion but to protect your overall health. There are certain chemicals in cigarettes that cause the valve that keeps stomach contents down to relax. This can make the acids and undigested foods to com upwards with mild to severe heartburn, which is another symptom of dyspepsia.


2. Overeating

Eating food more than our stomach can take does not end well for our body. It interferes with the functioning of your digestive system as there is a problem in breaking down the food. Overeating can lead to more acid production thus causing acid reflux and indigestion symptoms. According to ayurveda, there is a requirement to leave one-third to one-quarter of our stomach empty so that there is enough space for our body to easily digest the food. This can cause major discomfort and and symptoms of dyspepsia.

3. Excessive caffeine or alcohol

And, alcohol consumption can also cause a lot of problems for your digestive tract. Drinking too much caffeinated drinks such as colas, coffees and teas can also trigger the signs of indigestion. According to some studies, caffeine intake is directly linked with the increased stomach acid production. Moreover, coffee may also increase inflammation in some people. Alcohol can also relax the valve that keeps stomach contents in the stomach. Therefore, it is best to have less intake of caffeine items and alcohol.

4. Oily or spicy foods

Spicy and oily foods are known to trigger stomach acid, heartburn and irritation. It can even lead to mouth and stomach ulcers. And yo prevent the problem of acidity, one should avoid having oily and spicy foods. Instead, consume more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and salads to make a healthy plate. This is one of the most common causes of indigestion.

Sometimes, indigestion is caused by other digestive diseases, such as:

  • Inflammation of the stomach (gastritis)
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Celiac disease
  • Gallstones
  • Constipation
  • Pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis)
  • Stomach cancer
  • Intestinal blockage

Indigestion diagnosis

Mild indigestion is mostly not a matter of concern. You should talk to your doctor if discomfort persists for more than two weeks. Your doctor will start the diagnosis by asking your medical history and a proper physical exam. The conclusions taken out can be enough if your indigestion is mild and you are not experiencing any particular symptoms, such as weight loss and persistent  vomiting. But if your indigestion starts suddenly, and you are experiencing severe symptoms or are older than age 55, your doctor might recommend other ways to treat.

How to treat indigestion?

oily foods

Treatment for dyspepsia depends on the cause and severity of symptoms. Mostly, treating an underlying condition or changing an individual's medication can reduce the severity of dyspepsia. For mild and less frequent symptoms, lifestyle changes can help. As per Dr. Ajay, here are some natural ways to cope up with indigestion or dyspepsia:

1. Avoid trigger foods

Some people have the tendency of having too much spicy foods. However, a lot of individuals do not function the same way and cannot digest spicy foods at all. Therefore, you need to avoid red chillies, hot spices, caffeine, desserts rich in sugar and fat if your body is not welcoming these foods in large quantities.

2. Reduce stress and anxiety

Reducing stress and anxiety can be very helpful in avoiding the problem of indigestion. Having less anxiety can not only treat but also prevent this condition. Stress and anxiety lead to stomach acid buildup, which can lead to the symptoms of indigestion. You can drink herbal teas and medicate to relax your mind and body.

Also read: Top 5 Best Herbal Teas For Indigestion And Constipation

3. Taking less alcohol or caffeine

Along with the restriction on trigger foods, you also need to restrict yourself from alcohol and caffeine. Coffee, teas, chocolate and alcohol should be avoided as much as possible. This is another natural way that can help in treating indigestion. These two have major components that trigger heartburn in some people. Therefore, it is best to take less alcohol and coffee everyday.

4. Eat small meals

To treat indigestion, you also need to have a control on your eating habits. Eating fixed or small portions of meal is always advisable. eating small and frequent meals at regular intervals also helps in promoting digestion. It eases gut function and the absorption of vitamins and minerals from the food. This habit is even advised by healthcare experts to manage digestive issues such as acid reflux, gastritis and heartburn.

5. Exercise

Along with choosing the right foods, exercising regularly also plays a major role in improving your digestive system and treating dyspepsia. You can choose any physical activity like running, walking, cycling or aerobic exercises at home. You can keep your digestive system functioning and also maintain overall health with exercising. Too much tension and anxiety can also put stress on your digestive system as it increases the risk of inflammation. You should adopt a lifestyle habit of doing atleast one type of workout daily.

So, these were the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of indigestion by Dr. Ajay Kumar. Although, indigestion does not have any  serious complications but it can affect your life by making you feel uncomfortable and causing you to eat less. When indigestion is caused by an underlying condition, that condition can also have its own complications. One can have jeera water to reduce bloating, acidity and indigestion in the body. Consuming two glasses of jeera water can beneficial for resolving this problem.

Read more articles on Other diseases