How can indigestion be treated?

Because indigestion is a symptom rather than a disease, treatment usually depends upon the underlying condition that is causing indigestion. Excess stomach acid does not cause indigestion, so using antacids will not help your indigestion.

Often, episodes of indigestion go away within hours without medical attention. However, if your symptoms become worse, you should consult a physician. Avoiding foods and situations that cause indigestion are the best ways to treat it. Changing the following eating habits that cause you to swallow too much air can help relieve indigestion:

  • Chewing with your mouth open
  • Talking while chewing
  • Eating food too fast

Other ways to treat indigestion:

  • Drink fluids after meals rather than during.
  • Avoid eating late at night.
  • Try to relax after meals.
  • Avoid spicy foods, smoking, and alcoholic beverages.
  • Sometimes aspirin can irritate the stomach lining. If this occurs, switch to acetaminophen.

If indigestion is a functional, or nonulcer condition, your physician may prescribe medications that affect stomach function.

How can indigestion be prevented?

The best way to treat indigestion is to prevent it by avoiding the foods and situations that seem to cause indigestion. Keeping a food diary is helpful in identifying foods that cause indigestion. Here are some other suggestions:

  • Eat small meals so the stomach does not have to work as hard or as long.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Avoid foods that contain high amounts of acids, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.
  • Caffeine causes the stomach to produce more acid, so reduce or avoid foods and beverages that contain caffeine.
  • If stress is a trigger for your indigestion, reevaluating your lifestyle may help to reduce stress. Learn new methods for managing stress, such as relaxation and biofeedback techniques.
  • Smokers should consider quitting smoking, or at least not smoking right before eating, as smoking can irritate the stomach lining.
  • Cut back on how much alcohol you drink, because alcohol can irritate the stomach lining.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting garments because they tend to squeeze the stomach, which can cause its contents to enter the esophagus.
  • Do not exercise with a full stomach. Rather, exercise before a meal or at least one hour after eating a meal.
  • Do not lie down right after eating.
  • Wait at least three hours after your last meal of the day before going to bed.
  • Sleep with your head elevated (at least six inches) above your feet and use pillows to prop yourself up. This will allow digestive juices to flow into the intestines rather than to the esophagus.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/01/2016.

References

  • The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Indigestion (Dyspepsia) Accessed 11/1/2016.
  • American Academy of Family Physicians. Dyspepsia Accessed 11/1/2016.

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