Dyspepsia, commonly referred to as indigestion, is an uncomfortable sensation felt in the chest or below the xiphoid process. It typically surfaces during or after eating and may manifest through several symptoms such as abdominal fullness, bloating, and gas. While it can be a sporadic occurrence for some, others may experience it daily.

Causes of Dyspepsia

Lifestyle-Related Causes

  • Rapid eating or overconsumption.
  • Intake of fatty, greasy, or spicy foods.
  • Excessive caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, or carbonated drinks.
  • Smoking habits.
  • High-stress or anxiety levels.
  • Use of certain medications like antibiotics, pain relievers, and iron supplements.

Digestive Conditions

  • Gastritis.
  • Peptic ulcers.
  • Celiac disease.
  • Gallstones.
  • Constipation.
  • Pancreatitis.
  • Stomach cancer.
  • Intestinal blockage or reduced intestinal blood flow.
  • Helicobacter pylori infection or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
  • Gastroparesis.

In certain cases, if indigestion appears without an identifiable cause, it might be labelled as functional or non-ulcer dyspepsia.

Symptoms of Dyspepsia

  • Feeling overly full during or after a meal.
  • Discomfort or pain in the epigastric area, located between the lower end of the chest bone and the navel.
  • Sensation of burning in the epigastric area.
  • Less commonly, individuals might experience nausea and bloating.

It's crucial to differentiate between indigestion and heartburn. Heartburn results from stomach acid moving into the esophagus and is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). However, it's possible for someone to experience both indigestion and heartburn simultaneously.

Diagnosing Dyspepsia

To determine the cause of indigestion, a doctor might:

  • Conduct blood, breath, or stool tests, especially if peptic ulcer disease is suspected.
  • Perform an upper endoscopy, potentially taking biopsies to check for damage from GERD, infections, or evidence of food allergies.

Treatment Options

Lifestyle Adjustments

  • Avoiding trigger foods.
  • Opting for smaller, frequent meals.
  • Minimising alcohol and caffeine intake.
  • Steering clear of certain pain relievers.
  • Managing stress and anxiety levels.


  • Over-the-counter antacids for immediate relief.
  • Histamine-2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) for longer-lasting relief.
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and Prokinetics, especially beneficial for those with GERD or slow stomach emptying. However, their side effects can include fatigue, sleepiness, depression, anxiety, and involuntary muscle movements.


While dyspepsia is generally not severe, it can impact quality of life. Some individuals might eat less due to discomfort or miss work or school. When indigestion results from another condition, that underlying issue might also present complications.