Indigestion

    Most people have indigestion at some point. Usually, it's not a sign of anything more serious and you can treat it yourself.


    Symptoms

    You can have the following symptoms after eating or drinking:

    • heartburn – a painful burning feeling in the chest, often after eating
    • feeling full and bloated
    • feeling sick
    • belching and farting
    • bringing up food or bitter-tasting fluids into your mouth

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    When it's not indigestion

    Stomach ache or back pain are usually not symptoms of indigestion. If you have those you might be constipated.

    Indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux – what's the difference?

    Heartburn and acid reflux are the same thing – when acid from your stomach comes up your throat. You'll have a burning feeling when this happens. This can be a symptom of indigestion.

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    Things you can try

    There's usually no need to see a GP about indigestion. There are some things you can do at home.

    Do

    • cut down on tea, coffee, cola or alcohol

    • prop your head and shoulders up in bed – this can stop stomach acid coming up while you sleep

    • lose weight if you're overweight

    Don't

    • eat 3 to 4 hours before going to bed

    • have rich, spicy or fatty foods

    • take ibuprofen or aspirin – this can make indigestion worse

    • smoke

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    How a pharmacist can help

    A pharmacist can recommend medicines to ease the burning feeling or pain that can come with indigestion.

    Medicines that help reduce acid in your stomach include:

    • antacids
    • proton pump inhibitors

    Some indigestion medicines are best to take after eating as their effects last longer. Check the information leaflet that comes with the medicines for more information.

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    Pregnant women: treating indigestion

    Pregnant women often get indigestion. It's very common from 27 weeks onwards.

    It can be caused by hormonal changes and the growing baby pressing against the stomach.

    A pharmacist can help with uncomfortable feelings or pain. They can recommend the best medicines to use when you're pregnant.

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    When to get medical help

    See a GP if you:

    • keep getting indigestion
    • are in severe pain
    • are 55 or older
    • have lost a lot of weight without meaning to
    • have difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
    • keep being sick
    • have iron deficiency anaemia
    • feel like you have a lump in your stomach
    • have bloody vomit or poo

    These symptoms can be a sign of something more serious.

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    Causes

    The acid in your stomach can irritate the stomach lining or your throat. This causes indigestion and gives you a burning feeling and pain.

    Other things that can cause indigestion include:

    • medicines
    • smoking
    • alcohol
    • a type of bacterial infection called helicobacter pylori

    Stress can make indigestion worse.

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    Illnesses that can cause indigestion

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