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How to deal with an indigestion (dyspepsia)

Dyspepsia (ingestion)

You are at a party or just a hang out with friends, in the midst of the excitement, you eat way too much without noticing (or maybe you really could not let those fries go). It is all fine till the next morning when you are uncomfortably full (I mean how long does food take to digest and get out?).

You feel bloated (sensation of tightness) and an uncomfortable pain between the area below your breast bone and your navel. You now understand why indigestion is usually referred to the after party illness.

Indigestion is just one of the symptoms under the umbrella term dyspepsia (big term for upper abdominal symptoms like indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, peptic ulcers)

It is a very common condition and most patients easily self diagnose.

  • Belching            
  • Nausea             
  • Vomiting             
  • Feeling of fullness              
  • Abdominal discomfort              
  • Flatulence (lots of gas in stomach)

Note however not to confuse with pain originating from the heart which spreads towards towards the jaw  and down the arms and is not relieved by antacids.

Most at times, dyspesia is not a complicated condition. However, consultation with a medical doctor is needed when it is associated with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) or when having blooding vomits.

Apart from too much food (in large chunks), other lifestyle factors can favor the occurrence of dyspepsia include       

  • High alcohol consumption (reduce consumption)             
  • Smoking (stop smoking)              
  • Diet (fatty or spicy meals, caffeine, chocolate…learn to recognise your trigger foods and avoid them. Eat in smaller chunks)             
  • Stress (try stress relaxing techniques, sports can help)           
  • Overweight (reduce weight through increased physical activity)           
  • Medicines e.g aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac, iron, metronidazole, just to name a few (mention your malaise to your health care provider and if possible ask for a replacement treatment)
  • Drink a lot of water              
  • Avoid eating late at night           
  • Avoid lying flat at night, use a pillow to raise up the head            
  • Avoid bending over too often

These are medications that can be bought without a doctor’s prescription. They include:             

  • Antacids: e.g. sodium bicarbonate, calcium, aluminium or magnesium combinations (e.g. Maalox). Some antacids come mixed with dimeticone (reduces gas/flatulence).      

Antacids are best taken 1 hour after meals (so that it has a longer action) and if on other medications, a 1 hour gap needed too (influences absorption of other medicines).

Care should also be taken with people on salt restricted diets.

Liquid forms of antacids are preferred over tablet forms as they act faster. Antacids should not be taken for more than 2 weeks.

If symptoms persist after 2 weeks, go for further investigation in a hospital.

  • Alginates e.g. Gaviscon          
  • Antihistamines e.g. Ranitidine (Azantac, Gastridin, Histac, Rani-Denk), Famotidine (Gastricid, Ulcetrax),       
  • Omeprazole              
  • Citrate de betaine facilitates digestion

Remember to always read labels and ask questions to your healthcare professionals for your safety.

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Ekwoge Hilda

Dr. Ekwoge Hilda is a trained pharmacist from Cameroon and Co-founder of HILPharma. When she is not busy creating content, she slings pills to pay the bills.

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