Most people will experience indigestion at some point in their lives. The term “indigestion” encompasses a range of digestive symptoms and is a common problem that affects many people, usually after eating or drinking. It is caused by acid breaking down the protective lining of the stomach wall, which leads to irritation and soreness.
Pain may be felt in the chest or top of the stomach. However many people complain of feeling 'bloated' or uncomfortably full and gaseous - needing to burp, belch or pass wind a lot. You may also experience nausea or vomiting and a loss of appetite.
Heartburn and indigestion can tend to have similar triggers.
- Eating large meals can cause your stomach to produce too much acid. Physically 'overfilling' the stomach can create pressure and cause acid to escape.
- Eating irregularly or too quickly can mean that acid levels in the stomach don't have time to regulate.
- Eating on the run or just before bedtime can make it easier for acid to escape back up into the oesophagus (food pipe).
- Fatty foods tend to stay in your stomach for longer because fats are slower to digest.
- Foods such as chocolate and mint may have a relaxant effect on the sphincter (ring of muscle) at the entrance to the stomach enabling acid to escape back up.
- Spicy foods, onions and tomato products.
- Caffeinated drinks and alcohol tend to increase acidity in your stomach.
- Very hot drinks and citrus juices may also be triggers.
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy.
- The baby physically putting pressure on the woman's digestive tract.
- Some medicines, such as those for heart problems, asthma and high blood pressure.
- Being overweight.
- Wearing tight clothes which can put pressure on your stomach.
- Smoking can encourage acid production and cause the sphincter to relax.
Many people can identify the triggers for their symptoms and take action accordingly, but if you are suffering regularly, or have any concerns, consult your GP.
Did you know?
- 73% of people will suffer from both heartburn and indigestion interchangeably.
- 1 in 5 people suffering from heartburn may experience symptoms every week.