What is indigestion?
Indigestion is a symptom that can be associated with many disorders. It is a vague term used to describe any discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract.

What causes indigestion?
Some causes of indigestion are:

  • Overeating
  • Eating too rapidly
  • Swallowing air
  • Alcohol
  • Emotional upset or anxiety
  • Excess stomach acid
  • Intolerance to certain foods or drugs

How can I handle indigestion?
Some advice for handling indigestion:

  • Eat slowly, at regular times (don’t skip meals), and in a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine-containing beverages and alcohol.
  • Use common sense. Avoid any foods you know give you indigestion. What may cause indigestion in someone else may not necessarily result in indigestion for you. Determine your own tolerance to foods.

What about heartburn?
Heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, rather, it is the regurgitation of stomach acid into the lower esophagus.
Some suggestions for this condition include:

  • Eliminate fried foods
  • Avoid alcohol, peppermint, spearmint
  • Avoid strong coffee and/or tea, and chocolate if not well tolerated
  • Avoid citrus juices, tomato, or spicy foods if they cause burning and irritation
  • Do not lie down for at least two hours after eating meals
  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Reduce weight, if overweight
  • Drink most fluids between meals, allowing small amounts with meals
  • Avoid smoking following meals

Chronic indigestion
If indigestion occurs frequently, the cause should be identified. Antacids may give temporary relief but will not cure the underlying cause. See your physician or nurse practitioner if you are often bothered by indigestion.