The most common cause of indigestion symptoms is gastroesophageal reflux, which is when acid and contents wash up from the stomach into the lining of the esophagus. Learn about over-the-counter treatments for indigestion with help from a pediatrician in this free video on indigestion.
Hi, I'm Dr. David Hill and today we're going to talk about how to get rid of indigestion. Now, when we talk about indigestion, we're usually describing an uncomfortable burning feeling right here kind of in the middle of the chest. This bone is the sternum, so in medicine we describe it as a sub-sternal discomfort because it's underneath the sternum. The most important thing is not to assume that it's necessarily indigestion. There are some obvious signs. If it hurts every time you eat. If it's better when you take an antacid like Tums or Zantac or Maalox. It's probably indigestion. But especially women, people with diabetes, may misdiagnose serious heart disease as indigestion. So if you're having a vague uncomfortable feeling here in your chest, don't just pop a couple of Tums and assume that it's going to go away. Seek care immediately because if you are having pain from your heart, time is of the essence in getting it figured out. On the other hand, if you're young, you have few risk factors for heart disease, if the pain is obviously and clearly related to eating and goes away when you stop, then there's a good chance that you have gastroesophageal reflux. Now, this is the most common cause of indigestion symptoms and it happens when stomach acid and contents wash up from the stomach into the esophagus irritating the lining of the esophagus and causing damage and inflammation. The good news is there are a lot of great over the counter treatments now for this condition. So when you think about medications, you start with simple antacid, things like Tums or Maalox that actually neutralize the stomach acid. A little stronger, a little more long lasting are medicines that prevent the stomach from making acid, things like Zantac or Axid or Pepcid which are now all over the counter and can be purchased without a prescription. If you want to take a step further, you can go to a class of medications called the proton pump inhibitors. One of these is over the counter that's sold as Prilosec or Omeprazole and this is a fantastic tool. If you're needing any of those, you probably want to go on them a couple of times a day for as long as a couple of months to really give the lining of the esophagus time to heal. However, if that's not working, it's time to seek care. You can have conditions, scarring within the esophagus, precancerous or even cancerous lesions of the esophagus. You can have strictures where there's a tight area that food won't go down. If you feel like the food simply isn't passing, especially things like steak, bread, chicken... It's time to see your doctor. You have something more than simple indigestion. Now there are also lifestyle changes you can make. If you're overweight, losing weight will reduce the pressure on your stomach. Eating, smaller meals will certainly help. When we stuff ourselves, the pressure on the stomach goes up and the stuff wants to come back up. Exercise is good. Smoking alcohol and caffeine will all make indigestion worse. So cut those things out of your lifestyle, take those habits away, and you're going to start feeling better in terms of indigestion. Last, you might prop up for a little while after meals. You might find that propping up on a pillow or two if you eat shortly before bedtime is helpful. So remember, number one, don't assume that all pain in here is indigestion. Number two, there are a lot of simple over the counter remedies if it is gastroesophageal reflex disease. And number three, if the symptoms are unusual, severe or failing to resolve quickly, see your doctor because there's a lot of serious stuff that can happen there. Talking about about the symptoms of indigestion and how to relieve them, I'm Dr. David Hill.