Indigestion is a term used to describe the unpleasant or painful feeling one gets in the upper part of the abdomen or lower part of the chest. Usually experienced after eating or drinking, indigestion is more of a symptom rather than a disease. The milder form is so common that almost everyone experiences it at some point or another in their lives. It affects an estimated 20 percent of the population of the United States and roughly only half of them actually seek medical help. Doctors also give it the grander name of dyspepsia.
Dyspepsia can also be the result of other more serious medical conditions like a heart attack. These symptoms are caused when the lining of the stomach is persistently in contact with the stomach acids. The acids irritate the lining making it swell and become painful. A large number of people have indigestion when the stomach acid refluxes up into the esophagus (gullet).
Frequent episodes of indigestion should not be taken lightly, especially if they accompany other signs like abnormal bowel movement or constant fever. People who have indigestion for a week out of each month and it continues for several months successively may have chronic indigestion. While it can happen due to a number of different reasons, in many cases it can be controlled by making simple changes in eating habits. Sometimes dyspepsia is caused due to some unrelated illness and seeking professional help in such a situation is recommended. A doctor can determine the underlying cause and guide the patient more accurately.
Signs of Indigestion
A majority of the people suffering from dyspepsia experience their own pattern of symptoms. In general, they vary from mild discomfort in the upper stomach to pain that is fairly severe and times shoots to the back. In addition to this, there may be a burning sensation rising from the breastbone all the way to the throat. This happens when there is reflux of stomach materials into the esophagus. They may also experience nausea, retching or vomiting, while others just get the feeling of being very full and bloated after eating their meals.
Causes of Chronic Indigestion
Most people who have chronic indigestion normally do not have another disease that causes it, but in some cases it may be caused by some other disease. There is a very large variety of reasons for the onset of chronic indigestion, some of which include:
• Stomach fluid backtracking and flowing into the esophagus – Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)
• Stomach or the esophagus being inflamed or cancer in either of the two.
• Ulcers caused by bacteria or stomach fluids harming the lining of the stomach or intestines.
• Drinking too much caffeine, alcohol or eating spicy and fatty foods.
• Certain medications like steroids, narcotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and antibiotics.
• Not chewing food properly and rushing through the meal or eating too much in one sitting.
• Anxiety or stress
If the symptoms of chronic indigestion are accompanied with excessive fatigue or unexpected weight loss, then a doctor should be consulted.
Home Remedies & Herbal Treatments
Since indigestion is a common ailment, its treatment is fairly simple. The most common treatment for indigestion is antacids, as they are highly effective for relieving the basic symptoms. In addition, medicines for decreasing stomach acids may also be given. Prolonged use of antacid medication can disrupt the natural acid-alkaline balance of the body, which can further increase the problem. Additionally, antacids contain aluminum, which is linked to senility and Alzheimer’s disease. So a large number of people prefer to use safer time-tested natural remedies. These home remedies promote a diet including alkaline foods and some natural foods with medicinal values.
Aniseed, or anise, is known since ancient times for its digestive powers. In many Eastern cultures, a teaspoon of roasted or plain aniseed chewed after a meal helps digestion and leaves a sweet smell in the mouth as well. Conversely, one can make a light herbal tea with the seeds. However, only European anise or sweet anise should be used for making tea. Peppermint is another easily available herb that has rather strong digestive and antibacterial properties. It is helpful in treating cramps, ulcers, flatulence and stomach disorders. A teaspoon of roasted seeds of the botanical plant Carum copticumor, or the more commonly known Carom seeds, can be chewed directly or taken in the form of tea after a meal to help digestion. Cinnamon, too, aids digestion; it can be added to a number of dishes in the form of a powder for its distinctive aroma or taken as a tea. Chicory root contains endive and escarole and is a bitter herb. A tea made with the herb reduces acid reflux and heartburn or a teaspoon of it can be added to a salad.
Making alkaline foods a part of the daily diet and reducing the intake of acidic foods helps to relieve the symptoms of indigestion. Things like deep fried foods, coffee, tea, refined sugary snacks, and starch should be taken in minimum amounts. Alkaline foods like milk, papaya, grapefruit, banana, pomegranate, and vegetables should be used on a regular basis.
In more severe chronic indigestion cases, a longer course of Slippery Elm Bark Power may be required. It involves taking one teaspoon of the herb mixed into a paste with cold Chamomile Tea. This should be taken daily for twelve weeks. Slippery Elm makes a protective coating along the mucosal lining of the esophagus and the stomach and in a dozen weeks it should totally heal the areas that are irritated. The benefit of the herbal treatments is that they produce no harmful side effects when taken in moderate amounts as described.
Continued well-being will require a change in lifestyle. Managing stress and better management of eating habits can help to cure the symptoms altogether. Over-indulgence, rushing through meals, comfort eating and eating when one is not hungry should be avoided.
Diagnoses of Dyspepsia
Dyspepsia is normally diagnosed on the basis of the typical symptoms described by the patient. Some tests can be run that help to exclude certain gastrointestinal diseases and other tests can help to identify abnormal gastrointestinal functions. In addition to this, the patient’s detailed history and a physical examination can help to identify the cause of the dyspepsia. Routine blood tests provide clues to unsuspected diseases while stool examination can show infections and signs of inflammation.
To find out more information on causes and treatment for chronic indigestion be sure to visit Reflux Remedy at www.refluxremedy.com today.