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Indigestion: Overview


Indigestion or acid reflux is something we all have symptoms of at one time or another in our lives. When we have indigestion or what is commonly referred to as 

heartburn, we usually run to the antacids such as Tums, Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta or Rolaids. There are also medical treatments for the more advanced forms of indigestion or acid reflux.

Indigestion is discomfort in the upper abdomen or chest, which is often accompanied by belching wind and bringing up acid through the gullet into the mouth. One of the main causes of indigestion is overeating and eating too quickly. It can also be caused by a diet high in rich and fatty foods, smoking, and drinking too much alcohol, and drinks containing caffeine, such as tea, coffee and cola. For those who drink alcohol in excess, they may even need to check in at alcoholism treatment centers to treat a condition worse than acid reflux.

Occasionally, indigestion can be caused by stomach cancer, but this is unusual in people under forty years of age. Symptoms of indigestion can also be caused by other ailments, such as gallstones, hernia, obesity and ulcers. 

Acid reflux is a condition where gastric juices containing acid travel back from the stomach into the esophagus. Symptoms of acid reflux include: heartburn (a burning feeling rising from the stomach or lower chest up towards the neck); regurgitation (bringing food back up into the mouth); chest pain and difficulty in swallowing; hoarseness, dental erosion and asthma (because acidic juices can make their way into the throat, mouth and air passages of the lungs). 

Some people experience this problem regularly and have a condition called gastro esophageal reflux disease or GERD. The food in the stomach is partially digested by stomach acid and enzymes, which are special chemicals that help to break down food so the body can use it. Normally, the partially digested acidic content in the stomach is delivered by the stomach muscle into the small intestine (bowel) for further digestion. In those with acid reflux, stomach acid content travels backwards into the esophagus, causing inflammation and damage. 

Factors contributing to acid reflux include fatty foods, cigarettes, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, obesity, pregnancy and delayed stomach emptying. Obesity and pregnancy increase pressures within the abdomen (body trunk), pushing the stomach contents back into the esophagus. A stomach full of food and acid is more prone to reflux, especially when the person lies down. For most people with acid reflux, the discomfort associated with the symptoms can affect quality of life and everyday activities, including work. Acid reflux is also the cause of heartburn and in severe cases, this can be very troublesome.

More often than needed, drug treatment is often prescribed to take care of these symptoms. Treatment is only needed for a short time although it may have to be repeated since some symptoms may re-occur. Upon a little investigation you will find that there are natural alternatives to the mainstream medicine that doctors may prescribe. Herbal remedies exist doe indigestion that are much safer then mainstream medicine. 


Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.




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