Indigestion is not a disease or illness but rather a collection of symptoms that may be experienced by an individual.
The medical term for indigestion is dyspepsia which is a general term that is used to describe discomfort in the upper abdomen.
Although indigestion is very common, the type and severity of the symptoms vary from person to person. One of the most common symptoms of indigestion is early fullness during a meal. Some individuals may only be able to eat a few spoonfuls of their meal before feeling full.
Other people complain of discomfort or burning in the upper abdomen after eating a meal. Other possible symptoms of indigestion include nausea, vomiting and belching.
There are many possible causes of indigestion. Often, indigestion is caused by lifestyle choices and may be triggered by food, drink or medication. Common causes include overeating or eating too quickly and eating fatty or spicy foods. Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine may also cause indigestion. In addition, certain medications such as antibiotics and pain relievers have been shown to cause indigestion in certain patients.
In most cases, mild indigestion is nothing to worry about. However, it is important to consult with a doctor if your symptoms last more that a few weeks or if your indigestion is accompanied by unintentional weight loss or loss of appetite, black stools, vomiting blood, or difficulty swallowing.
All of these symptoms may indicate a more serious condition that needs immediate medical attention.
If you have been diagnosed with mild indigestion, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to help ease the symptoms. Avoiding food triggers is usually a good place to start. Maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise also promotes better digestion. New evidence is showing that reducing stress and anxiety may also help with indigestion.
If your indigestion persists after making lifestyle changes, your doctor may suggest medications such as antacids or other prescription medications that will reduce the production of stomach acids.
Most cases of indigestion do not cause any serious complications. However, it can significantly affect the quality of your life. Next time you feel a bit of indigestion, keep in mind the simple lifestyle tips that were mentioned above.
Until next month, drive safely.
Dr. Christopher H. Singh runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at the 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 519-421-2024.