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How to get rid of indigestion - Symptoms and Treatment

Updated on January 19, 2011

A part from the occasional rumble or belch, we do not usually notice the functioning of our digestive systems. For most of us, the term ‘indigestion’ covers a wide variety of digestive complaints, but most commonly it means pain after eating food, often accompanied by a bloated, sick feeling.


Mild indigestion occurring after a heavy meal, particularly if rich or spicy food has been eaten, is extremely common. It is a complaint that mainly affects adults. (Children rarely suffer from indigestion – they tend to be sick and solve the problem instantly)

Chronic indigestion is more persistent and severe and is often a symptom of a medical condition which can usually be treated. In some people, the pattern of indigestion is indicative of a specific medical complaint, such as a peptic ulcer, a hiatus hernia or migraine.


Indigestion is either a symptom of illness or much more commonly, the result from the way food is eaten. Depending on the individual, certain food can cause indigestion. Notable culprits: spicy, garlicky curries, pickles, rich food loaded with cream or butter. Unripe fruit, undercooked meat and excesses of tea, alcohol or tobacco can also cause types of indigestion. It is not that these substances cannot be digested; it is only that the stomach takes longer to deal with them and is slow to pass them on into the remainder of the gut. The stomach contents and stomach acid lie in the stomach without being passed into the duodenum. Acid is poured out which causes heartburn and belching.

For some people, indigestion is brought on simply by hurried eating and failing to chew food properly. Or the cause may be poor dental hygiene, because bad or septic teeth, leaking pus or blood around the gum margins, will taint food and produce chronic indigestion.

There may also be psychological reasons behind bouts of indigestion. The nerve supply to the stomach is through the vagus nerve which controls acid production and the rate at which food leaves the stomach. Both anxiety and depression affect this part of the nervous system. Excess acid and slow emptying both cause indigestion and can lead to the formation of ulcers.


The degree of indigestion produces an individual combination of symptoms, from pain and flatulence to severe discomfort and regurgitation of acid food. Symptoms vary depending on the cause. There is usually pain which is either colicky or constant and situated in the pit of the stomach or upper chest. Or there may be nausea, accompanied by a full and heavy sensation in the stomach; if the sufferer can be sick, i.e. throw up, the indigestion is relieved immediately.

Acid regurgitation from indigestion is also common. Acid comes up into the mouth to produce hoarseness of the voice and a pain in the chest, better known as heartburn. Sometimes a person with indigestion will experience a symptom known as water brash – where saliva flows like water – accompanied by excess belching, flatulence or hiccups. In chronic indigestion, the tongue is dry and is coated with a brown fur-like substance and the breath is stale.


Isolated bouts of indigestion following heavy meals or drinking sprees are not dangerous. However, where the indigestion is chronic or when the pain does not pass or becomes extremely severe, it is important to see a doctor, as some serious conditions have pains and symptoms which often mimic indigestion. Inflammation of the gall-bladder, for instance, produces wind, sickness and central abdominal pain. Some rare cases of appendicitis can produce the same symptoms. A heart attack or clot on the lung may also appear, at first, to be an acute bout of indigestion, but the pain remains fixed or worsens and is not relieved by taking an antacid. And where chronic indigestion is caused by a peptic ulcer, which is left undetected, the ulcer may perforate or bleed. Persistent indigestion may also be the first indication of stomach cancer. Failure to diagnose any of these conditions is dangerous and could even be fatal.


In the case of chronic indigestion where a medical condition, such as a hiatus hernia, cancer or an ulcer, is suspected, the sufferer will usually have a medical investigation, such as an X-ray or an endoscopy, to establish the cause. If the cause is a hurried way of life, stress or poor diet, this must be corrected or in the case of isolated bouts of indigestion, treated with antacids.

The outlook for people with a medical cause for their indigestion varies from case to case. Many people suffering from a hiatus hernia may have to control the condition y taking regular antacids and avoiding certain foods. People with ulcers can normally be cured by medical or surgical means, although if stress was the original cause of the ulcer, another may form if the way of life is not altered. For the great majority of indigestion sufferers, an occasional antacid allows them to eat freely as it relieves the indigestion quickly and effectively. Others with more severe symptoms need to modify their lives, in particular their eating habits.


* Take a dose of antacid. Magnesium salts are slightly slow in action but do not affect the systemic acid-base balance, although they may cause diarrhea in some.

Sodium bicarb may work in those types of indigestion where gas becomes trapped in the stomach, producing pressure and pain. The soda bicarb causes more gas to be formed which is enough to break the wind and release the trapped gas, making you more comfortable. Its antacid effect neutralizes stomach acid and also aids digestion. However, the risks are that it may cause fluid overload. Avoid if you over 60, have heart disease, hypertension or renal failure.

* Take sips of water and sit in the cool air. Sit up rather than lie down and it may help to walk around.

* If the indigestion persists or is more severe than usual, you should get medical advice.

* If you have never had indigestion before, be sure to tell your doctor to aid him in his diagnosis.


* Eat regularly and slowly, chewing food adequately so that it is swallowed easily.

* Do not eat when wet or cold, as the digestive mechanism of your body will be slowed down.

* Avoid heavy drinking or smoking.

* Take plenty of exercise.

* Eat plenty of fiber to avoid constipation.

* Visit your dentist for regular check-ups.

* If anxious or depressed, seek help from your doctor.


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    • profile image

      Tony 3 years ago

      Im going to the hospital.

    • profile image

      Brittany 4 years ago

      I get it every night after I take my medicine. I take it with water, so it's not because of soda or anything. I can't throw up, cuz I'll puke up my pills. Then I'll have to do it again:/ an I'm allergic to milk so...

    • profile image

      hearty 4 years ago

      i suffer with this a lot after i drink fizzzy pop? horrible! will try some of these tips!!!

    • Cleanclover profile image

      Cleanclover 5 years ago from Piece of land!

      Well, one mineral than I have found to be very effective in treating my indigestion was zinc. It increases appetite and eliminates gas so if one always suffers from indigestion try taking a zinc supplement. Thank you for the hub now I know what to do when I have indigestion.

    • profile image

      Chan 5 years ago

      I get this all the time and the only thing that's works for me to to be sick so there is nothing inside my stomach

    • profile image

      April 5 years ago

      I ate kinda late last night (like 9 or so). I'm a vegan so I try to eat healthy, especially if I have to eat late at night. Well, what I ate caused indigestion like ten minutes after I was done eating. It lasted all night and well into today. I took something this morning that made it go away for about two or three hours. Then, it came back full swing. I ended up having to take 2 Zantac 150's, 2 gas-ex chewables, and a Ginger capsule. I'm at the point right now where I can lay back on my bed and not start having chest pains or what seem to be menstrual cramps. I have heard that throwing up helps and believe me, I tried today but because I didn't eat much, I couldn't throw up. My stomach is still a little crampy but the meds are helping a lot. If it gets bad again, I have a date with the toilet. I will make myself throw up if it's the last thing I do. I'm done living with that pain. I don't wish it on my worst enemy. The nausea was the worst. The heartburn was a close second. Once I get the heartburn under control, the other symptoms tend to lessen in severity.

    • profile image

      betty 5 years ago

      worst indegestion ever i haven't even eaten anything bad today and im still sufferin this rank uncomfortable pain wht do i do

    • profile image

      charlene 5 years ago

      Indigestion i was told to try the vinegar from picked onions few sips and 10 minutes later all gone but it don't always work depending on how bad your indigestion is.....

    • profile image

      adam 5 years ago

      I get indesgetion eva day wot can i do

    • profile image

      amber wilson 5 years ago

      Im pregnant so i get indigestion a lot so milk or tums help but i want to know is there anything else that could help if you run out of either of those like any house hold items.

    • profile image

      colin 5 years ago

      Aw thanks for the tips y'all, vomiting really helps like instantly.

    • profile image

      jayne 5 years ago

      I have had it for 3 month solid so scared to go to the docs as my mam died with lung cancer not long ago.

    • profile image 5 years ago

      Mate this don't help lmao.

    • profile image

      indigestion Sucks 5 years ago

      Throw up. It helps

    • profile image

      Gizmo 5 years ago


    • profile image

      Amy lu 5 years ago

      same.. Diary products sre bad!

    • profile image

      JessK 5 years ago

      I was told by my doctor, milk is the worst thing to cure indigestion.

    • profile image

      Johnny 5 years ago

      5 days can't get a decent burp up. pain like a balloon inflating when I do get some gas thru a belch out. pain when eating or drinking feels like throat neck sternum area. it feels like behind my adams apple or above the sternum where collarbones connect to be exact. can just feel the gas trapped. i've taken zantac or w.e hasn't done anything. tried soda just to get a burp up but doesn't seem to relief the pressure even drinking baking soda and water. no sour burps yet just those symptoms. Constant discomfort. What the hell is it. I've had maybe felt summin like this for 12 hrs not 5 days.!!! Anyone please?

    • profile image

      lyndsey 5 years ago

      this is the worst pain i have ever experienced tried milk fingers crossed it works

    • profile image

      Deej 5 years ago

      Milk is the best thing xD

    • profile image

      yourlocalsupplier 5 years ago

      I thought I had really bad indigestion for 2 yrs ended up getting gall bladder removed. Waited too long to get checked

    • profile image

      Alexia 6 years ago

      It hurts when I breath in, but not out??

    • profile image

      Katherine 6 years ago

      I still feel like I have to throw up or burb

    • profile image

      helllo 6 years ago

      i vomited now its gone??

    • profile image

      Alyce 6 years ago

      Milk is GREAT i have chronic indergestion to the point I have to throw up. Terrible stomach pains & behind my breasts like a stabbing pain. Milk does relieve it for me. Eventualy.

    • profile image

      brandy 6 years ago

      a tablespoon of baking soda and two cups of water, plus thirty minutes...goodbye indigestion

    • profile image

      Katy 6 years ago

      I'm only 15, and I've been dieting recently. I went on holiday for a few days and my mum said I could relax a little, so one night we had savaloy and chips for tea, and this unhealthy food caused instant indigestion. I'd never had it before, and it was so painful, I was convinced I was having a heart attack, thanks for the tips!

      Also, I find sitting hunched forwards and taking slow steady breaths helps a lot, it's what I do to help get rid of it, lying down makes mine hurt even more :(

    • profile image

      Cynthia  6 years ago

      Im young and this is my first time having indigestion. It hurts, thanks for the tips.

    • profile image

      jack 6 years ago

      i also found that drinking milk also help ease the indigestion

    • profile image

      Samster The Manster 6 years ago

      I Still Have Itt Reading This Dident Help :(

    • profile image

      bryce 7 years ago

      thanks i was just getting the "burps" as i call them so i went online to find something to stop them because im getting tired of them there anoyying! lol thians ill follow your tips

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Hubby will def be using these tips! Thanks!