Although the words indigestion and heartburn are often used interchangeably, they are two completely different conditions.
Indigestion or upset stomach is a general term used to describe a feeling of discomfort in the upper abdomen. Symptoms of indigestion can occur differently in each person. They may include:
- Burning in the upper abdomen
- Bloating in the upper abdomen
- Uncontrollable burping
- Feeling full longer than you should
- Feeling full right after you begin eating
These symptoms can be caused as a result of eating fatty or greasy foods, eating too quickly, drinking too much alcohol, eating during stressful situations or smoking.
Making certain lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of indigestion. Here are a few tips to minimize symptoms and reduce your risk: quit smoking, avoid fatty or greasy foods, eat slowly, decrease stress or limit the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Indigestion can serve as a warning sign for more serious digestive diseases. If you are experiencing symptoms for more than two weeks, it is advised that you see a doctor.
Heartburn is a condition that occurs when stomach acids flow up into the esophagus. This process is called acid reflux. It causes a burning pain in the upper chest or the middle of the chest. Additional symptoms of heartburn can include:
- A foul or acidic taste in the mouth
- Pain that worsens when lying down or bending over
- Burning sensation in the throat
- Difficulty swallowing
Eating certain foods can trigger or worsen the symptoms of heartburn. Limiting the following can reduce your risk: spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, onions, citrus fruits and products, caffeinated drinks such as coffee, fatty meals, chocolate and tomato-based products such as ketchup.
Some individuals are more at risk than others for developing heartburn. People at risk include those who are pregnant or obese; those diagnosed with conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or hiatal hernias as well as those who are taking certain medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs.
It is advised that you see a doctor if: your heartburn symptoms are severe and occur frequently; you are experiencing nausea or vomiting; you have diarrhea, black or bloody stools or you have a chronic cough. Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing difficulty breathing or severe chest pain or pressure.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.