What Is Indigestion and How Does It Occur?

What Is Indigestion?

What is indigestion? Well, according to WebMD, it is an incredibly broad term used to describe a set of symptoms associated with gastrointestinal distress. Most often, indigestion (dyspepsia) is encountered during or right after a meal. In some cases, the causes of indigestion are actually underlying conditions such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), gallbladder disease or ulcers. Because of this, frequent bouts of indigestion or cases of severe indigestion with worse symptoms than are typical should be evaluated by a health care provider to determine if there is a more sinister cause for symptoms. Mayo Clinic mentions that those wondering what is indigestion will find that getting a straight answer is difficult because symptoms can vary from person to person; however, abdominal discomfort most accurately describes the condition.

As generalized symptoms are the hallmark of indigestion, it is important to understand what they entail and what can cause them. Sometimes, indigestion symptoms present themselves merely as a feeling of fullness where completing even a modest meal can be challenging. Other times, the fullness waits to appear until after a meal is finished. A sense or feeling of burning in the abdomen, a sensation not unlike acid reflux, is another common complaint. Stomach bloating, characterized not necessarily by pain but rather a tightening feeling, is also a common symptom of indigestion. Gassiness and increased belching as well as even nausea and vomiting can also occur as a result of the condition. And, WebMD points out that a growling tummy and an odd acidic taste in the mouth can also appear when indigestion is near. With such a wide variety of symptoms, it is easy to see how answering the question of what is indigestion can be so difficult. Not every person will experience each symptom and, it is possible that some people will experience others that are not discussed here. But, one symptom can be especially troubling, and that is the pain that can be encountered with indigestion.

Indigestion pain is something that is different for everyone. Mayo Clinic explains that the pain is most often felt in the abdominal region, somewhere between the breastbone and belly button. This pain can be mild, moderate or severe. Unfortunately because of the large area in which the pain can occur, it is not uncommon for sufferers to wonder if they are having indigestion or heart attack symptoms. This can be troubling, especially if there are no other symptoms to go along with it. Because chest pain can be considered a medical emergency in many cases, indigestion pain can very easily be mistaken for something much more serious. And, as such, Mayo Clinic warns that when pain in the abdominal region is accompanied by telltale symptoms of a serious problem such as shortness of breath or radiating pain to the jaw line that medical assistance be sought out immediately.

Those wondering what is indigestion and why it occurs will find that lifestyle plays an important factor in the development of this gastro-logical guessing game. There is no one trigger that will bring on a bout of indigestion and one particular trigger may be bothersome one day and not the next. However, there are some things that are more likely to bring about the occurrence of the condition. And, avoiding these triggers can help stave off subsequent attacks. Greasy foods are one of the most common causes. Foods that are deep fried, extremely fatty or extra spicy are more likely to bring on dyspepsia as well. There is no simple answer to why this is, but the digestive tract sure does seem to have disdain for these tougher to break down and irritating foodstuffs. Another incredibly common source of indigestion symptoms is eating too much or eating too fast (or, a combination of both in some cases). The reason why this is problematic is twofold. For starters, it is easy to see why an onslaught of sustenance all invading the stomach at one time can lead to discomfort. The stomach simply cannot digest food as quickly as it was put in. And, when food is eaten very rapidly, extra air is often swallowed which can lead to the formation of gas, another uncomfortable symptom.

But, answering what is indigestion without exploring non-food related source of the problem is not telling the whole story. Stress level can actually play a role in causing occurrences. And, so can smoking (which is another contributing factor to gas formation). Medications also can cause dyspepsia, and antibiotics, iron supplements and pain killers are often the guilty parties.

So, what is indigestion exactly? Well, there is simply no straight answer. Each person is different and so is what they eat and therefore there is no straight definition of how and when indigestion will affect any individual. But, while it is incredibly common, especially following a hot wing pig out or all night drinking binge, it can be a sign of a more serious problem. And, regardless of which symptoms are or are not encountered, it is worth a check up with a health care provider if indigestion is all too often appearing as an uninvited guest at mealtime.

References:
http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/indigestion
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/indigestion/

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