Indigestion or an upset stomach, medically known as dyspepsia, can often feel like an unwelcome guest. You might be surprised to learn that an increase in episodes of indigestion could be signaling something more than a mere disagreement with last night’s dinner. This article explores possible reasons why you may be experiencing more indigestion, with insights from Dr. Anita Iroko, a general practitioner.
Before we jump into the possible causes, let’s ensure we’re all on the same page about what indigestion looks like.
On This Page
How Do You Know If You Have Indigestion?
Indigestion can present with:
- A feeling of discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen
- Bloating and a feeling of fullness
- Heartburn or burning sensation in the chest
- Nausea, with or without vomiting
- Burping and loud stomach gurgling
Why More Indigestion? Uncovering the Reasons
1. Increased Stress and Anxiety
As you may already know, your mental state can significantly influence your physical well-being. “An increase in stress levels can exacerbate indigestion,” explains Dr. Iroko. When you’re stressed, your body goes into fight or flight mode, which some study suggests can slow down digestion and lead to discomfort.
2. Dietary Habits
Eating too quickly, overeating, or consuming fatty, spicy, or greasy foods can all trigger indigestion. Dr. Iroko points out that “even something as simple as eating late at night can result in indigestion, as the body struggles to process food while you sleep.”
3. Lifestyle Changes
A sedentary lifestyle can slow your digestion, causing discomfort. Regular physical activity aids digestion by helping food move through your system. Furthermore, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can irritate your stomach lining, leading to indigestion.
4. Medication Side Effects
Many common medications, including certain pain relievers and antibiotics, can cause indigestion. If you’ve recently started a new medication and have noticed an increase in indigestion, this might be the culprit.
Could It Be Something More Serious?
While indigestion is usually nothing more than a minor annoyance, persistent indigestion can sometimes signal a more serious underlying issue, such as gastric or peptic ulcers, gallstones, pancreatitis, or even, in rare cases, cancer of the stomach or esophagus. “If indigestion symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, it’s important to seek medical advice,” urges Dr. Iroko.
How to Manage Indigestion
Fortunately, there are several methods you can employ to manage and prevent indigestion.
1. Stress Management
Since stress can trigger indigestion, techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can help manage stress levels and, subsequently, reduce episodes of indigestion.
2. Dietary Adjustments
Making conscious changes to your eating habits can significantly impact your digestive health. Dr. Iroko suggests “eating smaller, more frequent meals instead of three large ones and avoiding eating right before bedtime.”
3. Lifestyle Modifications
Increasing physical activity, limiting alcohol intake, and quitting smoking can all contribute to improved digestion.
4. Medical Treatment
For frequent indigestion, over-the-counter antacids or acid blockers can provide relief. However, persistent indigestion should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
All in all, it’s important to listen to what your body is telling you. Increased indigestion might be your body’s way of alerting you to lifestyle factors that need addressing or, in some cases, more serious underlying conditions. Remember, if you’re in doubt, it’s always best to consult with your doctor to ensure you’re taking the best possible care of your health.
Further Reading: 7 Ways to Get Rid of Indigestion Quickly