INDIGESTION

General Infomation
Definition: 

Indigestion — also called dyspepsia or an upset stomach — is a general term that describes discomfort in your upper abdomen. Indigestion is not a disease, but rather a collection of symptoms you experience, including bloating, belching and nausea. Although indigestion is common, how you experience indigestion may differ from how someone else does. Symptoms of indigestion might be felt occasionally or as often as daily.
Fortunately, you may be able to prevent or treat the symptoms of indigestion

Symptoms: 

Most people with indigestion have one or more of the following symptoms:
• Early fullness during a meal. You haven't eaten much of your meal, but you already feel full and may not be able to finish eating.
• Uncomfortable fullness after a meal. Fullness lasts longer than it should.
• Pain in the upper abdomen. You feel a mild to severe pain in the area between the bottom of your breastbone (sternum) and your navel.
• Burning in the upper abdomen. You feel an uncomfortable heat or burning sensation between the bottom of the breastbone and navel.
Less frequent symptoms may come along with indigestion, including:
• Nausea. You feel like you are about to vomit.
• Bloating. Your stomach feels swollen, tight and uncomfortable.
Sometimes people with indigestion also experience heartburn, but heartburn and indigestion are two separate conditions. Heartburn is a pain or burning feeling in the center of your chest that may radiate into your neck or back after eating.
When to see a doctor
Mild indigestion is usually nothing to worry about. Consult your doctor if discomfort persists for more than two weeks. Contact your doctor right away if pain is severe or accompanied by:
• Weight loss or loss of appetite
• Vomiting
• Black, tarry stools
• Jaundice, or yellow coloring in the skin and eyes
Seek immediate medical attention if you have:
• Shortness of breath, sweating or chest pain radiating to the jaw, neck or arm
• Chest pain on exertion or with stress

Causes & Complication
Causes: 

There are many possible causes of indigestion. Some are related to lifestyle and what you're eating and drinking. Indigestion can also be caused by other digestive conditions.
Common causes include:
• Overeating
• Eating too quickly
• Fatty or greasy foods
• Spicy foods
• Too much caffeine
• Too much alcohol
• Too much chocolate
• Too many carbonated beverages
• Smoking
• Nervousness
• Emotional trauma
• Medications, including antibiotics, aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
• Stomach inflammation (gastritis)
• Pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis)
• Peptic ulcers
• Gallstones
• Stomach cancer
When a cause for indigestion can't be found after a thorough evaluation, a person may have functional dyspepsia. Functional dyspepsia is a type of indigestion that may impair the stomach's ability to accept and digest food and then pass that food to the small intestine.

Complications: 

Although indigestion doesn't usually have serious complications, it can affect your quality of life by making you feel uncomfortable and causing you to eat less. When indigestion is caused by an underlying condition, that condition could come with complications of its own.

Tests
Tests and Diagnosis: 

To investigate your signs and symptoms of indigestion, your doctor will likely review your medical history and perform a physical exam. To rule out other conditions that can cause indigestion, the doctor might order tests, including:
• X rays of your esophagus, stomach and small intestine. Also called an upper gastrointestinal and small bowel series, this exam uses X-rays to make images of the inside of your body.
• Blood, breath or stool tests. These help determine whether peptic ulcer disease is causing symptoms.
• Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. After you've been sedated, a long, thin tube with an attached camera is placed in your mouth, down your esophagus and into your stomach. The doctor looks for abnormalities and may remove some tissue (biopsy) for later examination.
• Abdominal ultrasound. Using high-frequency sound waves, an ultrasound makes images that show movement, structure and blood flow. A gel is applied to your abdomen, and then a hand-held device that emits sound waves is pressed against your skin.
• Abdominal CT scan. A dye might be injected into your veins in order to get more-detailed pictures of inside your body. Then, you lie on a table and the CT scanner rotates around you, taking X-ray pictures as it moves.

Medication & Prevention
Treatments and Drugs: 

If lifestyle changes — especially avoiding offending foods — don't help your indigestion, there also are over-the-counter and prescription medications that may help. Most are designed to reduce stomach acid or help move food from the stomach to the small intestine.
Types of indigestion medications include:
• Antacids. Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, Riopan and others are available over-the-counter and work by neutralizing stomach acid. Side effects include diarrhea and constipation. These are often the first medications doctors recommend.
• H-2-receptor antagonists (H2RAs). These include Axid, Tagamet, Pepcid and Zantac, which are available over-the-counter or by prescription. They reduce stomach acid and work longer — but not as quickly — as antacids. Side effects may include headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and bruising or bleeding.
• Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix and Zegerid are most effective for people who also have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). These medications reduce stomach acid and are stronger than H2RAs. They're available by prescription, although Prilosec also comes in over-the-counter strength. Possible side effects include back pain, aching, cough, headache, dizziness, abdominal pain, gas, nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea. Long-term use has, rarely, been associated with bone fractures.
• Prokinetics. Medications such as Reglan can be helpful if your stomach empties slowly. People taking this prescription medication frequently experience side effects, including fatigue, sleepiness, depression, anxiety and involuntary muscle spasms.
• Antibiotics. If the bacteria that causes peptic ulcer disease (Helicobacter pylori) is causing your indigestion, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. Side effects include upset stomach, fungal infections and diarrhea.
• Antidepressants. If a thorough evaluation doesn't reveal a cause for your symptoms and the conventional treatments above don't work, your doctor may recommend an antidepressant medication. These prescription medications may improve the discomfort from indigestion by decreasing your sensation of pain. Side effects may include headaches, nausea, night sweats, agitation and constipation.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies: 

Healthy lifestyle choices may help prevent mild indigestion.
• Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Chew your food slowly and thoroughly.
• Avoid triggers. Fatty and spicy foods, carbonated beverages, caffeine, alcohol and smoking can trigger indigestion.
• Maintain a healthy weight. Excess pounds put pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach and causing acid to back up into your esophagus.
• Exercise regularly. With your doctor's OK, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. It can be as simple as a daily walk, though not right after you eat. Exercise helps you keep off extra weight and promotes better digestion.
• Manage stress. Create a calm environment at mealtime. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga. Spend time doing things you enjoy. Get plenty of sleep.
• Reconsider your medications. With your doctor's approval, stop or cut back on aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs, which can irritate your stomach lining. If that's not an option, be sure to take these medications with food.

Alternative Medicine: 

Some people may find relief from indigestion through the following methods, although more research is needed to determine their effectiveness:
• Drinking herbal tea with peppermint.
• Psychological methods, including relaxation techniques, cognitive therapy and hypnotherapy.
• Using the herb STW 5, which is made with peppermint and caraway. Remember that there's a risk that comes with taking herbs, as they are not regulated.

By Anonymous on 26 April 2011