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INDIGESTION - CAUSES & CURE

Aug 23, 2019

Our busy lives leave little scope for healthy eating and much for unhealthy digestion. Indigestion is a broad term that covers multiple illnesses like heartburn, ulcers, flatulence, bloating, etc. After we eat, food is pushed down the esophagus into our stomachs where digestion takes place. At times, the contents of our stomach travel back up and into the esophagus causing a ‘reflux' or a burning sensation leading to indigestion.
 

What causes indigestion:

Factors, both environmental and medical, can bring about indigestion. What we eat is as important as when we eat and how much we eat.

Following are some of the common causes of these illnesses

  • Eating disorder - Having an eating disorder, or an abnormal pattern of eating, like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), etc. can lead to an onset of indigestion in our bodies.

  • Stress and anxiety - Stress can have a deeper impact on our bodies than we realize, leading to health problems and disrupting our digestive processes.

  • Ulcers - Ulcers, more often peptic ulcers, can cause indigestion-like pain.

  • IBS and gastritis - Illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastritis can cause damage to the stomach lining leading to indigestion or stomach pains.

  • Lactose intolerance - Those who are lactose intolerant can experience acid reflux and indigestion after consuming dairy products.

  • Weight - Being overweight or obese can expose your body to indigestion related ailments like acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

  • Gallstones - Chronic gallbladder illnesses can cause digestive problems, such as acid reflux, flatulence, nausea, and vomiting.

  • Alcohol - Consuming alcohol with food can affect our digestive system.

  • Aerophagia - Aerophagia, or excessive and repetitive swallowing of air, can create indigestion leading to belching, bloating, flatulence and abdominal distension.


Common symptoms of indigestion include abdominal pain, bloating, acid reflux, heartburn, belching, flatulence, constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. It is essential to consult your doctor if any of these symptoms continue to exist for a couple of weeks. Consuming an over-the-counter antacid can also provide relief from an existing condition.
                       

Popular treatments and cures for indigestion


Indigestion, in many cases, is not an easily diagnosed illness. Therefore, medicine has been unable to make sufficient progress towards producing drugs which can be completely satisfying in resolving this ailment.

Antacids:


Antacids are the most popular medication for indigestion related disorders. They are a category of medicines that help in neutralizing the acid content of our stomachs, thereby, providing relief from indigestion symptoms. Antacids are probably the oldest medications given for indigestion and heartburn. They are usually combinations of aluminum and magnesium hydroxide. While most antacids are available over-the-counter, it is always a good option to consult with your doctor than self-medicating. It is also important to read and follow the instruction laid out on the medications. Excessive use of some antacids may lead to metabolic bone diseases.

Antacids, however, don’t prevent recurrence of indigestion symptoms. On the other hand, adopting some of the following alternate methods of relief can lead to more robust stomachs.

Foods for indigestion:

  1. Peppermint tea - Peppermint has an antispasmodic effect on our bodies. Peppermint tea helps relieve indigestion ailments like nausea and acid reflux.

  2. Chamomile tea - Drinking chamomile tea calms the body and helps to reduce stress and anxiety (. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. It relaxes our body and helps us sleep.

  3. Apple cider vinegar - Drinking apple cider vinegar can optimize the stomach acid levels, a reduction in which can cause indigestion.

  4. Ginger - Ginger helps expedite food movement through your stomach, thereby reducing the risk of heartburn, nausea and stomach discomfort. It is an excellent home remedy for indigestion as it helps reduce any excess amount of stomach acid.

  5. Lemon - Lemon water is an excellent source of vitamin C and helps neutralize stomach acid.

  6. Fennel seeds - The antispasmodic present in fennel seeds relaxes the muscles in our digestive tract, thereby reducing bloating, flatulence and stomach cramping.

  7. Licorice Root - Licorice root helps calm muscle spasms and inflammation of the digestive tract.

  8. Baking Soda - Baking soda or Sodium Bicarbonate, is a quick solution to indigestion. It can help neutralize stomach acid and provide relief from bloating and flatulence.

  9. Yogurt - Yogurt contains lactic acid bacteria, known as probiotics which reside in your digestive tract and help contribute to a healthy gut. These probiotics can help reduce indigestion symptoms like bloating, constipation and diarrhea.

Improving your lifestyle:


INDIGESTION - CAUSES & CURE

  1. Consuming meals at routine times daily can help reduce indigestion. It is also important to avoid late night meals. Give a 2-3 hours gap between meals and bedtime.

  2. Try and relax after finishing meals.

  3. Eating slowly and smaller meals can help reduce pressure on our stomachs.

  4. Try yoga. Certain yoga poses can help prevent and cure indigestion related ailments.

  5. Regular exercise can strengthen your digestive tract and treat indigestion related ailments like constipation.


Avoid the following:

  • Overindulgence - Overeating can harm our bowels causing indigestion. Too much alcohol too can irritate our stomach lining and cause gastric disorders.

  • Caffeine - Excessive intake of caffeine can cause heartburn, diarrhea and worsen stomach ulcers in some patients.

  • Spicy foods - Eating spicy foods can aggravate an already existing stomach ailment. 

  • Fatty and greasy foods - Limit your consumption of fried food.

  • Beverages - Avoid drinking beverages with meals. 

  • Dairy - Avoid dairy products if you are lactose intolerant.

  • Smoking - Smoking can lead to heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcers, and liver diseases.

  • Exercising when full - Avoid exercising with a full stomach.

  • Medications - Certain medicines like aspirin, estrogen, birth control pills, antibiotics, thyroid pills, and steroids can cause indigestion-like symptoms. It is best to consult your doctor if symptoms persist.

  • Stress - It important to avoid stress and anxiety (yoga exercises for stress relief) and keep ourselves calm.


Indigestion is a global ailment affecting individuals across countries, demographics, and gender. According to research conducted by the World Health Organization in 2017, over $10 billion dollars are spent globally on antacids. In another study carried out by the World Gastroenterology Organization, the number of people affected by GERD is increasing globally; as much as 2.5% to 6.6% in Asia and almost 13.8% to 25.8% in North America.

A healthy life is as important as a long life.
 

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