(Dyspepsia; Non-ulcer Dyspepsia; Non-ulcer Stomach Pain)
Indigestion is discomfort in the upper abdomen or chest. It is often linked to nausea, belching, or bloating.
Locations of Indigestion Symptoms
The exact cause is not known. Most often, the condition is linked to a number of unhealthy lifestyle factors. These factors can result in poor digestion.
The following lifestyle factors increase your chances of indigestion:
- Eating too quickly or at irregular intervals
- Eating greasy, high-fat, or spicy foods
- Drinking caffeine, alcohol, or soft drinks in excess
- Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- Psychological stress
Indigestion is characterized by a variety of symptoms, including:
- Pain or burning sensation in the upper abdomen or chest
- Abdominal bloating
- Belching or regurgitation
When Should I Call My Doctor?
It is common to have indigestion occasionally. If the episodes worsen or happen more frequently, make an appointment to see your doctor. If you have indigestion, important reasons to call your doctor include:
- Having trouble swallowing
- Vomiting with most episodes
- Experiencing weight loss
- Having a family history of cancer
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. Indigestion is diagnosed mainly on the symptoms listed above.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
Your bodily structures may need to be viewed. This can be done with:
The rate at which the stomach empties may need to be evaluated. This can be done with a gastric emptying study.
Your doctor will suggest a plan based on the severity of your symptoms. Treatment options may include the following:
Dietary and Lifestyle Changes
Your doctor may advise you to:
- Reduce your intake of fatty and spicy foods.
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large meals.
- Reduce your intake of alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages.
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
- If stress is related to your symptoms, find ways to manage stress.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Exercise regularly.
To help reduce the chance of indigestion:
- Avoid overeating
- Eat slowly and regularly
- Avoid greasy, high-fat foods
- Limit spicy foods
- Do not smoke
- Drink coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages in moderation
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
American College of Gastroenterology
American Gastroenterological Association
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Dyspepsia: treatment. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/dyspepsia/treatment.html. Updated February 2014. Accessed December 18, 2014.
Karamanolis G, Caenepeel P, et al. Association of the predominant symptom with clinical characteristics and pathophysiological mechanisms in functional dyspepsia. Gastroenterology. 2006;130(2):296-303.
Mertz H, Fullerton S, et al. Symptoms and visceral perception in severe functional organic dyspepsia. Gut. 1998;42(6):814-822.
Tack J, Talley NJ, et al. Functional gastroduodenal disorders. Gastroenterology. 2006;130(5):1466-1479.
3/1/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com: Maalox Total Relief and Maalox liquid products: medication use errors. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm200672.htm. Updated September 9, 2013. Accessed December 18, 2014.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.