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Symptoms and Signs of Indigestion (Upset Stomach)

Doctor's Notes on Indigestion (Upset Stomach) Causes and Treatments

“indigestion” is actually not a medical term or well-defined condition. The term is typically used to refer to an upset stomach (medically known as dyspepsia) which can have a number of different causes. Causes of dyspepsia include both diseases that involve the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and also by some diseases and conditions that do not involve the GI tract. Some examples of causes include infections of the stomach lining, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and food allergies.

Indigestion can be a chronic condition in which the symptoms fluctuate over time in their duration, frequency, and intensity. Signs and symptoms of indigestion include burning or pain in the chest or upper abdomen, burping or belching, nausea, bloating, abdominal distention, feeling full after consuming a small amount of food, and less commonly, vomiting. An acidic taste in the moth can be another associated symptom. Pregnancy, stress, and anxiety may worsen the symptoms.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Indigestion (Upset Stomach) Causes and Treatments Symptoms

Common indigestion symptoms and signs include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Heartburn or acid indigestion (acid reflux)
  • Bloating (full feeling)
  • Excessive gas (belching, burping or flatulence)
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Acidic taste in the mouth
  • Gurgling, rumbling, or growling stomach discomfort
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite

Consult your healthcare professional if there are changes in your symptoms, or indigestion symptoms continue or worsen, or if they are accompanied by unintentional weight loss, blood in stool, difficulty in swallowing, or inability to eat due to poor appetite.

Visit your health-care professional for regular health check-ups. Some testing performed to diagnose the cause of your indigestion may be repeated in the future to gauge the response to treatment.

Indigestion (Upset Stomach) Causes and Treatments Causes

Disease or conditions that may cause indigestion to include:

Stress and anxiety can affect the body and can aggravate symptoms of indigestion. The physiological stress due to anxiety and stress also affect indigestion. Because indigestion can be caused by anxiety, lifestyle and diet, or another medical condition, it may be difficult to know what is causing it.

Contact a doctor to find out if anxiety is causing your indigestion, and to help you manage your anxiety if it is aggravating indigestion symptoms.

In addition to a physical exam and questions about your symptoms, a doctor may perform the following tests:

  • Blood tests
    • compete blood count (CBC)
    • liver panel, amylase and lipase (for pancreatitis)
    • kidney function test
    • guaiac test (a test for blood in the stool)
  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) testing, either by stool test or breath test
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD, or endoscopy)
    • capsule endoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Upper GI and small bowel X-ray series
  • CT Scan or MRI of the abdomen
  • Gastric emptying study

In addition to a physical exam and questions about your symptoms, a doctor may perform the following tests:

  • Blood tests
    • compete blood count (CBC)
    • liver panel, amylase and lipase (for pancreatitis)
    • kidney function test
    • guaiac test (a test for blood in the stool)
  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) testing, either by stool test or breath test
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD, or endoscopy)
    • capsule endoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Upper GI and small bowel X-ray series
  • CT Scan or MRI of the abdomen
  • Gastric emptying study
  • Indigestion is a symptom of many different conditions.
  • It is usually related to a functional problem of the gastrointestinal tract (difficulty processing food or stomach acids).
  • This dysfunction of the gastrointestinal system is caused most often by diseases, medications, and lifestyle.
  • Indigestion is a symptom of many different conditions.
  • It is usually related to a functional problem of the gastrointestinal tract (difficulty processing food or stomach acids).
  • This dysfunction of the gastrointestinal system is caused most often by diseases, medications, and lifestyle.

Medications that may cause indigestion to include:

Medications that may cause indigestion to include:

Lifestyle factors that may cause indigestion to include:

  • Eating too much, eating too fast
  • Eating fatty, greasy or spicy foods
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Smoking
  • Stress, fatigue and anxiety
  • Caffeine
  • Moderate to intense exercise immediately after eating

Lifestyle factors that may cause indigestion to include:

  • Eating too much, eating too fast
  • Eating fatty, greasy or spicy foods
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Smoking
  • Stress, fatigue and anxiety
  • Caffeine
  • Moderate to intense exercise immediately after eating

Heartburn Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid Slideshow

Heartburn Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid Slideshow

To answer this question, we first must understand what heartburn is. It is a burning discomfort usually in the center of the chest that continues up to the throat in some individuals. Stomach acid refluxes (flows upwards through a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter) into the esophagus and irritates its tissue. Certain foods trigger heartburn and you need to identify the foods that trigger your heartburn. This slideshow may help you identify foods that may trigger heartburn and offers suggestions about how the risk for heartburn can be reduced.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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