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Indigestion

Definition

Indigestion (dyspepsia) is a mild discomfort in the upper belly or abdomen. It often occurs during or right after eating. It may feel like:

Bloating and nausea are less common symptoms.

Indigestion is NOT the same as heartburn.

Alternative Names

Dyspepsia; Uncomfortable fullness after meals

Causes

Most of the time, indigestion is not a sign of a serious health problem unless it occurs with other symptoms. These may include:

Rarely, the discomfort of a heart attack is mistaken for indigestion.

Indigestion may be triggered by:

Other causes of indigestion are:

Home Care

Changing the way you eat may help your symptoms. Steps you can take include:

Avoid aspirin and other NSAIDs. If you must take them, do so on a full stomach.

Antacids may relieve indigestion.

Medicines you can buy without a prescription, such as ranitidine (Zantac) and omeprazole (Prilosec OTC) can relieve symptoms. Your health care provider may also prescribe these medicines in higher doses or for longer periods of time.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Get medical help right away if your symptoms include jaw pain, chest pain, back pain, heavy sweating, anxiety, or a feeling of impending doom. These are possible heart attack symptoms.

Call your provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will do a physical exam on the stomach area and digestive tract. You will be asked questions about your symptoms.

You may have some tests, including:

References

Mayer EA. Functional gastrointestinal disorders: irritable bowel syndrome, dyspepsia, chest pain of presumed esophageal origin, and heartburn. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 137.

Tack J. Dyspepsia. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 14.


Review Date: 1/29/2017
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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