The medical term for Indigestion is dyspepsia. It’s used to describe the symptoms triggered by the abnormal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.
This happens when the acids in your stomach break down the protective lining of your digestive system, known as mucosa, resulting in an inflammation and irritation of the upper abdomen, including the stomach, some parts of the small intestine and in a few cases, the oesophagus.
Although indigestion is closely associated with eating habits, it may be as a result of other factors as well.
What Causes Indigestion?
Knowing the underlying cause of indigestion is important towards treating it. Below are a few causes of indigestion.
• Spicy foods
• Underlying diseases such as ulcers , gastroesophageal reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome , thyroid dysfunction, chronic pancreatitis, and stomach cancer (rare)
• Anxiety or depression
• Smoking or alcohol consumption
• Certain drugs such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), thyroid medicines, steroids, and sometimes oral contraceptive pills
• Lifestyle factors
• A digestive system lining that is hypersensitive to the stomach acid
Signs and Symptoms of Indigestion
• Excessive gas
• Growling stomach
• Abdominal pain
• Burning sensation in the upper abdomen or heartburn
• Acidic taste
• Nausea (with or without vomiting)
• Diarrhea or constipation
• Decreased appetite
Complications Regarding Indigestion
Indigestion has no serious complications. However, it may lead to a lot of discomfort. It may also have a negative effect on your dietary intake, affect your quality of life and hamper your productivity.
Underlying conditions that tend to cause indigestion tend to get complicated over time.
Ways to Prevent Indigestion
Here are a few tips to help you keep digestive issues at bay:
• Eat smaller and more frequent meals.
• Eat slowly.
• Avoid extremely spicy and fatty foods.
• Avoid binge eating.
• Do not lie down right after having your meal.
• Cut back on your alcohol consumption.
• Stop smoking .
• Manage stress .
Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.
• Discuss with your doctor about changing the medications that may end up irritating the stomach lining.
• If possible, cut back on pain relievers.
When to See a Doctor
Mild indigestion is something you wouldn’t necessarily need to worry about as it is pretty common and easy to deal with. However, a case of indigestion that has lasted for over two weeks will need medical attention.
Check for the following symptoms that can be indicative of a serious condition :
• Black-colored tarry stools
• Vomit containing blood
• Difficulty swallowing
• Increased frequency of vomiting
• Constant pain in the abdomen
• Unintentional weight loss
• Rapid breath
• Skin and eyes turning yellow in color
• Pain in the jaw , neck, chest, and arm
Here are a number of easy-to-follow home remedies for mild indigestion.
1. Drink Adequate Amounts of Water
It’s important to stay hydrated as this ensures a healthy digestion. The body needs water for digestion and it will also help absorb nutrients from food. It will also help to wash down the acid responsible for indigestion.
Indigestion could be accompanied by diarrhoea and vomiting, which could leave you dehydrated. Staying dehydrated will have a debilitating effect on your body’s digestive system and make you extremely vulnerable to indigestion.
Drinking appropriately eight or more cups a day can help cater to your body’s water needs.
2. Gulp Down a Solution of Baking Soda
Indigestion could be a result of high stomach acid levels. Baking Soda is one of the best ways to treat this problem because it acts as an antacid and instantly provides instant relief.
It is also believed to be useful in detoxifying the digestive system. Baking Soda should be consumed in moderate amounts when being used as a remedy for indigestion. Baking Soda reacts with the stomach acid and releases carbon dioxide gas, which helps relieve indigestion through belching.
What to do:
• Stir half a teaspoon of baking soda into half a glass of water.
• Drink the solution immediately so that it neutralizes the acid in your stomach.
Note: When this is consumed in excessive amounts, it could lead to nausea, gastric rupture and bloating. Be sure to not go above half a teaspoon of baking soda.
3. Include Probiotics in Your Diet
Probiotics are rich in good gut bacteria and this helps replenish intestinal microflora and contribute to a healthy gut.
Consuming probiotics in healthy amounts can help relieve your indigestion woes and aid better digestion by targeting your gut.
A study published in 2017 found that consuming probiotics was effective in the normalizing of gut mircrobiota and treatment of functional dyspepsia.
You could consume drinks like yoghurt, sauerkraut and kefir.
4. Drink Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is effective and can prevent indigestion specially in cases where a heavy meal has been consumed.
Chamomile is a great source of dietary antioxidants. It contains several terpenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols. The polyphenols and flavonoids are soluble in hot water and are responsible for the potent antioxidant activity.
That’s why its best to enjoy the antioxidant benefits of chamomile in a hot cup of chamomile tea.
How to use:
• Dip your favourite chamomile brand in a cup of hot water and cover for five minutes (tea can be peppermint too)
• Drink the tea while it’s still warm
5. Drink Basil Leaf Tea
Basil is a tested and tried Ayurvedic remedy for acid reflux and indigestion. It aids in relieving intestinal gas as a result of its carminative properties. Basil is packed with flavonoids, phytosterols and terpenes which contribute to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties.
To use :
• Add a teaspoon of basil to a cup of hot water and let it steep for ten minutes. Drink up to three cups of it daily.
• Or mix five basil leaves, a quarter teaspoon of sea salt and some black pepper powder in three tablespoons of plain yoghurt. Consume the mixture thrice a day.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV is used to kick start a slow stomach. It is acidic in nature but has an alkalizing effect that helps treat indigestion. It also exhibits antimicrobial activity .
Although there’s not much evidence to support this remedy, lots of folks have had positive results from using this for their indigestion issues.
To use :
• Add one tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a cup of water.
• Mix in a teaspoon of raw honey
• Drink the solution thrice a day for quick relief
Note that you should dilute ACV it water as consuming it in its concentrated form could lead to oesophageal burns. Frequent use of ACV will also erode your teeth’s enamel.