What Does Indigestion Feel Like
Indigestion medical term dyspepsia is a collection of symptoms, and heartburn is just one of them. Heartburn is also its own distinct symptom related to stomach acid. Indigestion, on the other hand, isnt related to stomach acid.
Indigestion is often connected to emotional health and state of mind feeling stressed, nervous, or anxious seems to trigger bouts of indigestion, while feeling relaxed tends to prevent them.
When To Go To The Doctor
Usually, indigestion only happens once in a while, like after eating certain foods that don’t agree with you. But you’ll want to see the doctor if you get indigestion even when you’re eating healthy foods, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
You may need to be examined or have stomach X-rays or other tests to make sure your indigestion is not a sign of another problem in your digestive tract. Depending on what the doctor finds, you might need to make changes in your diet or take medicine.
Be sure to tell your parent or talk to a doctor if these things happen in addition to your indigestion:
- vomiting , especially if you see blood in your vomit
- weight loss
- frequent or intense stomach pain
- black or bloody bowel movements
These can be signs of other problems, so be sure to talk to a doctor if you experience one or several of these symptoms.
How Do You Know If You Have Indigestion
Indigestion is diagnosed primarily based on typical symptoms and the exclusion of non-functional gastrointestinal diseases , non-gastrointestinal diseases, and psychiatric illness. There are tests for identifying abnormal gastrointestinal function directly, but they are limited in their ability to do so.
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A Pharmacist Can Help With Indigestion
A pharmacist can recommend medicines to ease the burning feeling or pain that can come with indigestion.
Medicines that help reduce acid in your stomach include:
- proton pump inhibitors
Some indigestion medicines are best to take after eating as their effects last longer. Check the information leaflet that comes with the medicines for more information.
What If Medication Or Lifestyle Changes Don’t Help
Your provider may request more testing if lifestyle changes and medication did not help. These tests include a pH test to check for acid in your esophagus or an endoscopy. This test uses a small tube with a camera and light to see inside of your digestive tract and spot any issues.
MedlinePlus National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases American College of Gastroenterology
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How To Know When To Seek Medical Attention For Heartburn
This article was co-authored by Laura Marusinec, MD. Dr. Marusinec is a board certified Pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, where she is on the Clinical Practice Council. She received her M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin School of Medicine in 1995 and completed her residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Pediatrics in 1998. She is a member of the American Medical Writers Association and the Society for Pediatric Urgent Care.There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 359,516 times.
Heartburn is a common condition that causes an unpleasant burning sensation in the throat and chest. In most cases, heartburn is temporary and usually goes away on its own. No treatment is needed aside from some steps to relieve the discomfort it causes. But sometimes heartburn may indicate a more serious disease or problem. That is why it is important to know when heartburn is normal and when to see a doctor. Keep reading to learn when to seek medical attention for your heartburn.
What Is Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is when there is the backflow of acid from the stomach into the esophagus. This can irritate the esophagus and other areas such as the throat that the gastric acid is in contact with. This can cause symptoms such as heartburn, a hoarse voice and a sour taste in the mouth. The stomach acid can escape because the ring of muscle at the end of the esophagus before the stomach, the lower esophageal sphincter is weak, there is excess acid production or reduced gastric emptying. Acid reflux is typically worse after eating, bending over or lying down.
Order safe treatment for acid reflux
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Heartburn Is Common But It Can Also Be Quite Serious
Heartburn is the burning feeling you get in your chest when food in your stomach backs up into your esophagus. Unfortunately, heartburn is extremely common, with an estimated 60 million Americans experiencing heartburn at least once a month. Nearly 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day.
When you feel heartburn, it means you have gastroesophageal reflux. The reflux is acidic stomach juice thats flowing back up into your esophagus. It irritates the delicate lining of your esophagus and can be painful. The acid reflux backs up into your neck and throat. Frequent acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease .
Chest Pain Prevention Tips
Some common ways to prevent experiencing chest pain are quitting smoking, managing your blood pressure and cholesterol, and staying in shape with regular exercise and eating a healthy, low-fat diet.
Experiencing chest pains that come and go may be frightening, and it is important to determine whether the pain is being caused by your heart and is therefore a serious concern, or something else that is more minor. If you are concerned about any chest pain, see your doctor and follow their recommendations to prevent the pain from recurring.
What Can A Person Expect During The Diagnosis And Treatment Of Indigestion
The initial approach to dyspepsia, whether it be treatment or testing, depends on the patient’s age, symptoms and the duration of the symptoms. If the patient is younger than 50 years of age and serious disease, particularly cancer, is not likely, testing is less important. If the symptoms are typical for dyspepsia and have been present for many years without change, then there is less need for testing, or at least extensive testing, to exclude other gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal diseases.
On the other hand, if the symptoms are of recent onset , progressively worsening, severe, or associated with “warning” signs, then early, more extensive testing is appropriate. Warning signs include loss of weight, nighttime awakening, blood in the stool or the material that is vomited , and signs of inflammation, such as fever or abdominal tenderness. Testing also is appropriate if, in addition to symptoms of dyspepsia, there are other prominent symptoms that are not commonly associated with dyspepsia.
If there are symptoms that suggest conditions other than dyspepsia, tests that are specific for these diseases should be done first. The reason is that if these other tests disclose other diseases, it may not be necessary to do additional testing. Examples of such symptoms and possible testing include:
Serious Side Effects Of Heartburn
Even if its not a heart attack, heartburn can be serious. Dangerous side effects and complications can result if you dont seek treatment. Some common side effects include:
- Awaking from sleep, especially if youve eaten within two hours of going to bed
- Esophageal cancer: if Barretts esophagus is not treated
- Esophagus erosion: scarring, ulcers and narrowing of the tube
- Barretts esophagus: precancerous condition from chronic acid reflux
- Esophageal strictures and dysphagia: swallowing difficulties due to esophagus damage
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What Causes Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is caused by weakness or relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter . Normally this valve closes tightly after food enters your stomach. If it relaxes when it shouldnt, your stomach contents rise back up into the esophagus.
Stomach acids flow back up into the esophagus, causing reflux.
Factors that can lead to this include:
- Too much pressure on the abdomen. Some pregnant women experience heartburn almost daily because of this increased pressure.
- Particular types of food and eating habits.
- Medications that include medicines for asthma, high blood pressure and allergies as well as painkillers, sedatives and anti-depressants.
- A hiatal hernia. The upper part of the stomach bulges into the diaphragm, getting in the way of normal intake of food.
Tips To Keep Heartburn On The Backburner
To prevent occasional bouts of heartburn, try taking the following five steps:
1. Avoid eating within three hours of the time you go to bed.
2. Take any acid suppressant medication, such as a proton pump inhibitor, first thing in the morning. “Because of the way proton pump inhibitor-type medications activate, it’s not helpful to take these medications at night on an empty stomach,” says Brown.
3. Sleep on a slight incline, with your head elevated, and/or sleep on your left side. If you have chronic heartburn, falling asleep in the wrong position enables acid to sneak into the esophagus. Keeping your head raised slightly keeps that from happening. Studies have also found that while sleeping on the right side actually aggravates heartburn, flipping over to your left side is likely to calm it, although the reason why is unknown.
4. Avoid foods that may cause acid reflux, such as peppermint, coffee and chocolate. “Interestingly, spicy foods haven’t been shown to cause heartburn,” says Brown. “And there’s some evidence that spicy foods may actually protect the body from ulcers.”
5. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, quit. Not only does smoking relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to move up into the esophagus where it doesn’t belong, but it also can slow the production of saliva, which protects against acid in the esophagus.
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Is There A Cure For Heartburn
There are many over the counter remedies which deal with the symptoms and eliminate the burning feeling.
To deal with the causes, you need to do the following:
- Avoid foods and beverages like chocolate, coffee, alcohol and soda as they can relax the valve.
- Avoid peppermint, greasy, spicy or tomato based foods.
- Stop smoking! Tobacco causes less saliva to form and saliva helps against stomach acid. Tobacco may also increase stomach acid.
- If you are overweight, go on a diet.
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day rather than two large ones.
- Do not eat 2-3 hours before sleeping.
- Elevate the head of your bed by 6-10 inches.
- Dont wear tight-fitting clothing and belts.
When Will It End
Heartburn symptoms are usually mild and manageable. Tell your healthcare provider if your heartburn is severe, if you spit up blood, or have dark-colored bowel movements. This is a sign of blood in your digestive tract. Fortunately, heartburn usually ends with the birth of your baby and your body goes back to its nonpregnant state.
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What Exactly Is Heartburn Anyway
Heartburnor gastroesophageal reflux or acid refluxis a painful burning feeling in your chest or your throat, according to the US National Library of Medicine .
Basically, heartburn happens when your esophagus relaxes too much and stomach acid comes back up into your esophagus, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases . It can be managed by making changes to your diet, like cutting back on coffee and alcohol, or through medications.
Having heartburn every once in a while, like after a spicy meal or taking a nap too soon after eating, is normal but if it occurs more than twice a week for more than a few weeks, it’s time to see a doctorin that case, you could have gastroesophageal reflux disease , a chronic, sometimes damaging form of heartburn.
But GERD isn’t the only issue that is related to heartburn. Many other conditionssome even life-threateningcan mimic the feeling of heartburn. Here, nine other conditions that heartburn could be masquerading asand when to see your doctor about it.
What Can I Do To Prevent Indigestion
There are many things you can do to try to prevent indigestion.
Making changes in your diet and eating habits can help. These include:
- Eating several small, low-fat meals each day instead of 3 large meals
- Eating slowly and giving yourself enough time for meals
- Limiting spicy, fatty, greasy, or high-fiber foods
- Chewing your food well
- Limiting or not having any coffee, soda, or alcohol
Avoid medicines that hurt your stomach. These include aspirin and over-the-counter pain and fever medicines . If you do take them, do so after you eat.
Other lifestyle changes that may keep indigestion from happening include:
- Quitting smoking
- Finding ways to lower your emotional and physical stress, such as meditation or yoga
- Exercising before a meal or waiting at least 1 hour after eating
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Smooth Muscle Relaxants For Indigestion
The most widely studied drugs for the treatment of abdominal pain in functional disorders are a group of drugs called smooth-muscle relaxants.
The gastrointestinal tract is primarily composed of a type of muscle called smooth muscle. Smooth muscle relaxant drugs reduce the strength of contraction of the smooth muscles but do not affect the contraction of other types of muscles. They are used in functional disorders, particularly IBS, with the assumption that strong or prolonged contractions of smooth muscles in the intestine-spasms-are the cause of the pain in functional disorders. There are even smooth muscle relaxants that are placed under the tongue, as is nitroglycerin for angina, so that they may be absorbed rapidly.
There are not enough studies of smooth muscle relaxants in indigestion to conclude that they are effective at reducing pain. Since their side effects are few, these drugs probably are worth trying. As with all drugs that are given to control symptoms, patients should carefully evaluate whether or not the smooth muscle relaxant they are using is effective at controlling the symptoms. If it is not clearly effective, the option of discontinuing the relaxant should be discussed with a physician.
Something Doesn’t Feel Right Shall I See My Doctor
Yes, absolutely. This applies to both chronic reflux and emergency situations.
If you suspect GERD please speak to your doctor to be treated. This is because if you have GERD, it can cause serious complications:
- Laryngitis – Typically this takes 2 weeks to recover assuming no further irritation by stomach acid.
- Esophagitis – With potent acid suppression this can take 2-8 weeks to heal.
- Ulcers – These can potentially perforate if untreated.
- Strictures – Chronic inflammation can lead to scar tissue that restricts digestive flow.
- Swallowing problems- This can lead to difficulty eating and drinking and cause weight loss
- Pre-cancerous changes to the esophageal lining – These may become cancerous.
If you have symptoms that make you suspect something more sinister is going on, such as a heart attack, go to the emergency department of a hospital:
- The heartburn is worse or unusual
- Your chest pain is severe which could be with a squeezing, tightening or crushing quality
- Other additional symptoms you may experience include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain that radiates to other areas of the upper body
Other conditions may also need to be ruled out by a doctor.
- An alternative cluster of symptoms could be:
- bloody or dark stools
- black/ coffee ground like vomit
You need to call 911 in this case as you may have had an ulcer such as a peptic ulcer bleed.
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What Is Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth : A potential cause of indigestion is bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine , although the frequency with which this condition causes indigestion has not been determined, and there is little research in the area. The relationship between overgrowth and indigestion needs to be pursued, however, since many of the symptoms of indigestion are also symptoms of bacterial overgrowth. Overgrowth can be diagnosed by hydrogen breath testing and is treated primarily with antibiotics.
Other diseases and conditions can aggravate indigestion and other functional diseases.
- Anxiety and/or depression are probably the most commonly-recognized exacerbating factors for patients with functional diseases.
- The menstrual cycle: During their periods, women often note that their functional symptoms are worse. This corresponds to the time during which the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are at their highest levels. Furthermore, it has been observed that treating women who have indigestion with leuprolide , an injectable drug that shuts off the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone, is effective at reducing symptoms of indigestion in premenopausal women. These observations support a role for hormones in the intensification of fun
How Gastroenterologists Help With Gerd
The key to treating your GERD: a board-certified gastroenterologist
If you are suffering from chronic acid reflux, a specialist can help. GERD is a potentially serious condition, and it will not go away on its own. Untreated GERD can lead to inflammation of the esophagus and cause complications like ulcers, strictures and increased risk of Barretts esophagus, which is a precursor to esophageal cancer.
A gastroenterologist is a physician with specialized training in managing diseases of the gastrointestinal tract . Our gastroenterologists are fellowship-trained and qualified to diagnose GERD and help develop a meet your treatment plan.
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So How Long Does Heartburn Last
Sadly, its difficult to say how long your heartburn is going to last, as this depends on each individual. For some it goes away after a few minutes, and with others it can stick around for hours or even days.
If youre experiencing the milder form of this condition that usually occurs after eating certain foods, then your heartburn symptoms can last until your body has digested the meal. The symptoms can also return when you lie down or bend over, as this puts extra pressure on the sphincter muscle.
If youre not among the lucky ones who only get heartburn during the day, you might be wondering how long heartburn can last at night. This form is known to be the most painful, and can even keep you up the whole night, and its also the most dangerous, since the stomach acid can stay in your oesophagus for longer, causing more damage to it. Night-time heartburn can also point to a more serious underlying medical condition, one that should be checked by a doctor.