Indigestion: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Prevention

Aug 27, 2019


"In the Lord's prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach.”
- Woodrow Wilson,

Former president of the United States of America

One of the most contented feelings that an individual can ever experience is that of having a fully filled stomach. In local versions, we quote that a food-laden stomach brings about the best of the spirits within a person.
However, sometimes we push our limitations just as to satisfy our cravings. Take the example of an auto rickshaw. It has its own fixed capacity of a number of passengers per trip, say it to be 3-4 persons at a time.  But for the greed of money, when one carries 10-15 passengers, one can mighty guess what could be the outcome. A definite accident!

Likewise, our stomach also has its threshold limits. If we wolf on food in order to satisfy the mental greed, ignoring the needs of the body, it lands into the zone of discomfort known as indigestion.

Indigestion, or generally known as upset stomach or medically termed as dyspepsia, is a painful or burning feeling in the upper abdomen. It has become so extensive throughout the world that multi-billion dollar industries are manufactured just to meet the need of ever increasing antacids and other therapies.

Indigestion: a bird’s eye view

In general, the major reasons for indigestion are over-eating, eating too fast, eating fast foods or eating during stressful conditions. In a few cases, swallowing air can also act as an undesirable factor.

Also, the intake of too much alcohol or caffeinated beverages can worsen the underlying conditions which contain roots of maladies like hiatal hernia and gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder (GERD). In a few cases, the emotional or psychological stresses may also result in indigestion.

However, particular persistent indigestion is not triggered by the above factors. This is called functional/ non-ulcer type of indigestion which is caused by the dysfunctional movement of food in the digestive tract. 


Some of the indicative symptoms of indigestion are:

  • Bloating
  • Belching and gas
  • Growling stomach
  • Loose motion
  • Burning sensations in upper belly or stomach
  • Nausea and vomiting


For the cure of any malady, the first and foremost step is proper identification of the disease and its current state. Since indigestion is comprehensive in itself, it is of paramount importance for a person to be able to elucidate its symptoms properly to a physician for a proper diagnosis.

The most commonly observed zone of discomfort is mostly the abdomen. If it is not detected through primary observations, methods like endoscopy or X-rays can also be adopted. Gastroscopy can also be a technique which is used to determine the stage of indigestion in the stomach.


Primordial causes of indigestion are sourced from the insalubrious lifestyle lead by people. The desirable changes can be:

  1. Eating smaller meals with greater frequency

This can enable one to chew up the food properly and allowing salivary juices to mix thoroughly with bolus for proper digestion.

  1. Avoiding excessive weight (yoga for weight-loss)

Excessive weight puts pressure on the abdomen, pushing back acid in the stomach to the esophagus.

  1. Regular workout

It will enable one to keep extra pounds away.

  1. Refrain from triggers

Processed foods, oil rich foods, carbonated drinks,artificial sweetners excessive intake of alcohol and caffeinated drinks and smoking should be minimalized.

  1. Proper management of stress

Stress has always been the culprit of causing all kinds of discomforts to the body hence meditation and good sleep should be ensured.

Medicines – a potent alternative
Complementary methods can also be a trustable option for treating indigestion.

  • Psychological therapy: Includes relaxation techniques, behavioral modification, and hypnotherapy.
  • Acupuncture: It can work by blocking nerve passages which carry painful sensations to the brain.
  • Natural therapy: Substances like peppermint and caraway can also act like wonders.

Following are the most potent options for an instant cure:

  1. Proton pump inhibitors: Taken when one experiences heartburn along with indigestion.
  2. Prokinetics: When the stomach empties slowly.
  3. Antacids: Cimetidine and ranitidine.
  4. H-2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs): Decreases intensity of stomach acid.

Prevention is better than cure

The age-old quote still retains its significance in the contemporary world. It’s my candid view that any lifestyle diseases can be cured through proper living habits. Some of these habits can be:

  1. Proper timing of sleep.
  2. Preventing stress from the mind.
  3. Quitting alcohol and smoking habits.
  4. Accommodating the meditation period within one's daily routine.
  5. Doing yoga asanas and pranayama on daily basis.
  6. Approaching to a doctor as soon as any prominent symptoms are visible.


“If there’s one thing to know about the human body; it’s this: the human body has a ringmaster. The ringmaster controls your digestion, your immunity, your brain, your health, and even your happiness. The ringmaster is the gut.”
- Nancy Mune

The importance of a healthy stomach is prodigious. The ringmaster always has the ability to control the whole unit and the status of the whole unit depends on the state of the ringmaster. But many times people thrive for the lust of food and this quest leads an individual far away from his or her proper course of life. As said by Saadi, “He who is a slave to his stomach seldom worships God”.

Not only he drifts away from inner well-being but also fosters maladies in the form of indigestion. Hence, we should lead our lives according to need and in a productive way. Healthy lifestyles will make way for healthy lives and only healthy lives can create a healthy society.

Thank you!

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