What Is the Treatment for Indigestion? continued...
Often, episodes of indigestion go away within hours without medical attention. However, if your symptoms become worse, you should consult a doctor. Avoiding foods and situations that cause indigestion are the best ways to treat it. Here are some helpful tips to alleviate indigestion:
- Try not to chew with your mouth open, talk while chewing, or eat too fast. This causes you to swallow too much air, which can aggravate indigestion.
- Drink fluids after rather than during meals.
- Avoid late-night eating.
- Avoid spicy foods.
- Stop smoking.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages.
If indigestion is not relieved after making these changes, your doctor may prescribe medications to alleviate your symptoms.
How Can I Prevent Indigestion?
The best way to prevent indigestion is to avoid the foods and situations that seem to cause it. 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.
- Reduce or avoid foods and beverages that contain caffeine.
- If stress is a trigger for your indigestion, learn new methods for managing stress, such as relaxation and biofeedback techniques.
- If you smoke, consider quitting, or at least not smoking right before or after eating, as smoking can irritate the stomach lining.
- Cut back on alcohol consumption because alcohol can irritate the stomach lining.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting garments because they tend to compress the stomach, which can cause its contents to enter the esophagus.
- Don't exercise with a full stomach. Rather, exercise before a meal or at least one hour after eating a meal.
- Don't 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 6 inches) above your feet and use pillows to prop yourself up. This will help allow digestive juices to flow into the intestines rather than to the esophagus.
When Should I Call the Doctor About Indigestion?
Because indigestion can be a sign of a more serious health problem, call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Vomiting or blood in vomit (the vomit may look like coffee grounds).
- Weight loss.
- Loss of appetite.
- Black, tarry stools or visible blood in stools.
- Severe pain in upper right abdomen.
- Pain in upper or lower right abdomen.
- Discomfort unrelated to eating.
Symptoms similar to indigestion may be caused by heart attacks. If indigestion is unusual, accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, or pain radiating to the jaw, neck, or arm, seek medical attention immediately.
Learn the basics about the digestive system.
View the full table of contents for the Digestive Disease Guide.