Indigestion the feeling of burning sensation in the stomach, medically known as dyspepsia, can be put as a functional disease. When it comes to understanding the diseases regarding the gastrointestinal tract, the concept of functional ailments is very useful. Functional disease here means the gastrointestinal muscles and the muscular organs are affected. The muscular organs are the stomach, small intestine, colon and gallbladder. These functions are involuntary and controlled by nerves.
When there is an available issue, it means that either the muscles of the underlying organs or the controlling nerves are not working normally or are dysfunctional. This dysfunction causes the key symptoms, which could be severe or mild. The nerves that are usually affected are not only the nerves attached to the muscles of the organs but also the nerves stemming from the spinal cord and the brain.
Is Indigestion Common?
Out of all ailments in the current times, indigestion is observed to be one of the most common ailments. Recent studies suggest almost 30% prevalence in Indians. Out of those, only around or less than 12% needed medical attention. Indigestion or burning sensation in the stomach can be caused by several aspects leading to different symptoms. Doctors refer to common and less severe indigestion as non-ulcer dyspepsia. That is essential as the severe cases entail ulcer-related and acid-related symptoms.
Symptoms of Indigestion
The symptoms are more noticeable and provoked when you eat something. The symptoms usually originate from the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract, stomach and small intestine. When you eat something, all the organs in the gastrointestinal tract must act together. But if there is something wrong, i.e., there is a functional disease, there won’t be good coordination between the organs, causing a series of symptoms. But it is important to note that eating is not the only way for the symptoms to surface, and this notion shouldn’t be treated as a set analysis method. Some common symptoms are:
- Discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen; around or above the navel
- Nausea can be followed by vomiting, although not as prominent
- Feeling full after a small amount of food
- Abdominal bloating
- Lower chest pain
- Burning sensation in the stomach
Causes of Indigestion
The most common and obvious causes of indigestion are gastrointestinal diseases. But there are non-gastrointestinal diseases that cause the burning sensation in the stomach too. Some of such diseases are diabetes, hyperparathyroidism, thyroid disease, and severe kidney diseases. The reason for these non-GI diseases to affect and cause indigestion is still relatively unclear.
Another cause of indigestion is drugs or pharmaceuticals. Drugs like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are very often associated with indigestion. The most common drugs under this category are ibuprofen and antibiotics. There are other drugs that cause indigestion, although it is less prominent.
Although the effects of natural and home remedies are less studied and have very little evidence proving their benefits, there are several remedies to try out. These potential remedies are:
- Natural antacids – Acid reflux is the most common cause of indigestion. It is also known as gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD). Intake of baking soda is recommended as it neutralises the acid. The advised form of intake should be in the form of pills or fluid.
- Ginger – Ginger has been observed to help against nausea. Although studies have shown that it is ineffective against dyspepsia, there is no harm in trying ginger when facing the burning sensation in the stomach.
- Peppermint – Peppermint has been noted to be effective on the functions of the GI tract. It is one of the most active inhibitors of intestinal muscles. There is less evidence regarding its effects in relation to dyspepsia, but just like ginger, it is harmless.
- Lifestyle changes – Staying away from foods and drinks that have previously been known to cause the symptoms is a good way to decrease irritability.
Doctors usually recommend lifestyle changes for indigestion or burning sensations in the stomach. Here are other suggested treatments:
- Eat five to six small meals a day instead of the regular three full meals
- Avoid or reduce intake of caffeine and alcohol
- Pain relievers such as Aspirin or Ibuprofen should be avoided. Consult your to be sure of the drugs to avoid
- Controlling anxiety and stress Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can ease the pain and hence ease the discomfort from indigestion
- OTC (over the counter) medicines are recommended if the burning sensation in the stomach persists. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce stomach acid and can help treat heartburn with indigestion.
This is an informative article written to inform and educate people about indigestion. We do merely suggest solutions and do not force or imply complete treatment with the treatments listed in this article. Consult your doctor before proceeding with any medical decision. Reaching out to a professional ensures you get the best treatment options for a successful recovery.