Sometimes called dyspepsia, indigestion is used to describe a number of different symptoms including discomfort or pain in your chest or upper abdomen generally associated with eating - although symptoms can occur at any time, not just after a meal. Some people have regular bouts of indigestion whilst others only suffer occasionally. Most people however will experience indigestion at some point in their lives.
Causes of indigestion
Your oesophagus (the food tube between your stomach and mouth) and your stomach have an internal layer of mucous to protect their sensitive, muscular walls from the highly acidic digestive juices contained in the stomach. If this protective layer breaks down, then the walls can become irritated and inflamed.
The most common causes of this breakdown in the mucous lining are:
- Eating greasy, fatty or spicy foods
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Medicines such as aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Stress and anxiety can also trigger digestive upsets and, if you are pregnant, you may find you also suffer bouts during your pregnancy. Indigestion can also be made worse if you're overweight as pressure on the stomach can cause acidic, digestive juices to be forced out of the stomach and up into the oesophagus.