Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is basically a symptom of certain digestive ailments. Indigestion is usually accompanied by symptoms like bloating or an uncomfortable sensation of abdominal fullness, gas, nausea, vomiting, belching, abdominal pain or cramp, and heartburn. If you experience these symptoms once in a while, especially after eating a heavy meal, or eating something that is not easily digestible, then it is quite normal. But constant indigestion or chronic dyspepsia can be an indicator that something is wrong with the digestive system.
Chronic Dyspepsia Causes
A number of factors can be responsible for causing this condition. People usually develop this condition after eating. One of the most important factors that can cause chronic indigestion is a poor diet that fails to provide enough dietary fibers. Fibers are important to maintain digestive health, and prevent indigestion. Again, many people are allergic to certain foods, like wheat, soy, and milk, and so, their consumption can also cause dyspepsia.
Even the consumption of fatty and spicy food can trigger an episode of indigestion and gas in some individuals. Therefore, it is very important to identify what kind of food one cannot tolerate. Apart from an improper diet, factors like smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeinated beverages, and certain medications like anti-inflammatory drugs can take a toll on our digestive system. An overgrowth of candida on the other hand, can destroy the beneficial bacteria that promote digestion. This can also manifest in dyspepsia.
In addition to these, some other possible causes of indigestion are, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stress, gastritis, stomach flu, stomach ulcer, excess stomach acid, inflammatory bowel diseases, pancreatic disease, and gallstones. Rarely, it can also be an indicator of cancer. Sometimes, persistent indigestion or dyspepsia may not be associated with any of the aforementioned factors and diseases. This type of dyspepsia is known as functional or non-ulcer dyspepsia. This condition is caused by a problem in the motility of the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis begins with a physical examination of the patient followed by certain other tests like X-rays of the stomach and the intestine, rectal examination, endoscopy, and barium studies. These diagnostic tests are conducted to rule out the possibility of ulcers, bleeding, and certain other conditions. The treatment of chronic indigestion depends on the underlying causes. Generally, lifestyle and dietary modifications can help resolve dyspepsia, if it is not associated with any major disease. Dietary modifications include avoidance of the particular food which causes indigestion. Sometimes, your physician may suggest only soft food or a liquid diet, until the symptoms of indigestion subside.
At times, medications can also be required to treat chronic dyspepsia. Medications that are more commonly employed for this purpose are, antacids, proton pump inhibitors, H-2 receptor antagonists, and prokinetic agents. Sometimes, antidepressants are recommended in order to relieve the discomfort associated with indigestion. If the bacterium, Helicobacter pylori is found to be the causative agent of peptic ulcers, and the resulting indigestion, then antibiotics can be recommended for the treatment of this condition.
Usually, indigestion and its symptoms can be managed with some precautionary measures, like eating frequent small meals, following a high fiber diet, managing stress with relaxation techniques, regular exercising, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding the foods that cause indigestion. Certain herbal remedies like peppermint and caraway can also be beneficial for this condition, if it is not related to stomach ulcers. However, it is better to get the condition properly evaluated by a physician to identify the actual causes of indigestion. So, if indigestion is persistent in nature, talk to your physician and follow his or her suggestions for treating this condition effectively.