If you wake up in the middle of the night with an upset stomach, or you can’t focus because of a nagging discomfort in your stomach… you may have a case of indigestion.
Also known as dyspepsia, this uncomfortable feeling can be incredibly frustrating and annoying. Here are some of the signs you have indigestion, as well as information on what causes it.
Symptoms of Indigestion
Symptoms can fluctuate from mild to severe and can last for days, months, or even years. Some people may experience problems for a few days at a time, and then have weeks of relief before their indigestion returns.
Here are a few of the more common symptoms:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Belching due to an accumulation of gas in the stomach
- Swelling in the abdomen
Eating tends to bring on symptoms. It may cause you to feel full after eating only a small fraction of your meal.2
What Causes Indigestion?
One of the more common reasons people develop dyspepsia is from taking certain medications. Certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications taken for pain can cause indigestion. Antibiotics can sometimes contribute to the condition as well.3
It is believed that dyspepsia occurs due to some sort of abnormality involving the muscles and nerves that control the organs in your gastrointestinal tract. Some researchers believe that food stretching your small intestine sends signals to your brain and spinal cord. Your nervous system sometimes perceives these signals as pain and discomfort.4
An overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine may be a contributing factor to many of the symptoms associated with indigestion.5 However, more research needs to be done before a relationship between the two can be definitively established.
Other potential causes of indigestion include anxiety, depression, and menstruation.6 Many women who go through menopause also report suffering from an upset stomach.7
When Should I Be Concerned?
In most cases, indigestion symptoms are relatively mild and don’t require medical help. There are some instances, however, where you might need to visit the doctor.
For example, if you have regular symptoms and suddenly lose a lot of weight, speak to a medical professional.
See a doctor if you’re vomiting regularly or having trouble swallowing, or if you notice blood in your vomit or stool. This could be a sign of something more serious.8
In rare instances, indigestion can be so severe that it can result in complications. These include scarring and narrowing of your esophagus, which can make it extremely hard to swallow your food. Indigestion can also result in irritation of the area of the gastrointestinal tract between your stomach and small intestine, known as the pylorus. This can make it hard for your body to properly digest the food you eat.9
Again, most people who have dyspepsia only have mild symptoms and don’t need to see a doctor. But if you have it on a regular basis, you should consider seeing a medical professional to get the problem addressed.
Before you see a doctor for, there are a few things you can do to help make your visit as efficient as possible. For example, you should make sure you comply with any instructions your doctor gives you before going to the office, including not eating anything for a certain time period before the appointment. You should also write down all of the medications you take and the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. And be sure to tell your doctor if you’ve gone through any particularly stressful events recently.
Doctors can perform several different tests to determine what is causing your upset stomach. You may get blood tests to determine if you have a bacterial infection, as well as x-rays of your stomach, small intestine, and esophagus. An ultrasound may be performed in order to determine how blood is flowing through your abdomen.11
Wrapping it Up
While symptoms of indigestion can be annoying, they usually don’t last all that long. If they do, however, be sure to speak with a medical professional. Your doctor can get to the cause of the problem so that it can be successfully addressed and you can get back to normal as quickly as possible.
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