At some point in life, nearly everyone experiences indigestion. While the symptoms of indigestion (also known as dyspepsia) are uncomfortable, they seldom cause significant impairment. However, it is also important to pay attention to recurring cases of indigestion and to get a medical assessment if it persists, especially if no particular triggers can be detected. Indigestion and similar symptoms can be caused by underlying gastrointestinal issues that, if left untreated, can lead to serious complications.
Common causes. Most often, indigestion is caused by irritation of the lining in the stomach or intestine. Underlying physical issues also may be directly involved in digestion that might affect the way food enters into and moves through the intestine. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Sometimes a person has indigestion for which a cause cannot be found. This type of indigestion, called functional dyspepsia, is thought to occur in the area where the stomach meets the small intestine.”
Potential medical issues. Dyspepsia can have a number of underlying medical causes, including some types of gastrointestinal cancer, GERD, peptic ulcers and pancreatic disorders. While these are relatively rare, it is important to note whether you’re in a high-risk group for these serious issues related to dyspepsia and to discuss any concerns with your family doctor.
Avoiding dyspepsia. Indigestion may or may not be avoidable, but a few common triggers for dyspepsia are easy to avoid. Very spicy foods are a common culprit, as are caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and other potentially irritating food and substances. Stress is seen as possibly the most common cause of indigestion and can be alleviated through regular exercise, simplifying your daily schedule, and practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.
Over-the-counter options. Aside from natural management, a number of over-the-counter products are available that may help relieve indigestion symptoms. As with any over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, always consult your doctor before use, especially if you’re taking other medications. Your doctor will be able to alert you to any possible interactions, as well as offer further advice on how to manage your indigestion naturally.