Everyone suffers from the occasional bout with indigestion. An iconic TV commercial from the 70’s which advertised a popular antacid, featured a groaning man saying “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!” For many people, overeating is one of the simple, not-to-worry causes of indigestion, or heartburn.
Other common causes of indigestion are eating foods that irritate the digestive tract. Common troublesome foods are spicy, greasy foods, chocolate, coffee and alcohol. It you have been going too heavy on any one of these, indigestion may be a wake-up call to cut back on these indigestion triggers.
The medical name for indigestion is “dyspepsia”. Its symptoms are belching, bloating, nausea and a generally uncomfortable feeling in the upper abdomen. This article is concerned with simple, ordinary indigestion. There are many causes of indigestion ranging from everyday triggers to serious medical disorders such as pancreatitis or even stomach cancer. Any prolonged discomfort should, of course, be investigated by your doctor.
Another important caveat is that symptoms of heartburn and an actual heart attack often resemble one another. It is quite common for a heart attack victim to think that he/she is suffering from indigestion. If a person is also experiencing shortness of breath or chest pain that radiates from the jaw, down through the neck and arm, a heart attack should immediately be suspected.
What home treatments can be done for the simple, garden variety indigestion? A good place to start is to avoid the afore-mentioned irritating “trigger” foods. Stick to a bland diet. Dry toast, crackers, unseasoned white rice, bananas, hard-boiled eggs and plain yogurt are some foods that many people find soothing to an angry stomach. Beverages to try would be chamomile tea, flat ginger ale or flat cola served at room temperature.
Here’s my favorite remedy which I tried quite by accident and found helpful: Underberg. This is a tonic produced in Germany from various herbs. It has been around since 1846 and the formula is quite secret. The label does list gentian as an ingredient and gentian root is a known remedy for indigestion. The gentian flower only grows in mountainous regions like the Alps. This digestif bitter is 44% alcohol and comes in a very pretty, paper-wrapped little bottle.
Over-the-counter antacids usually provide prompt relief as they work to neutralize stomach acid. Every drugstore contains a variety of antacids to choose from because indigestion is such a common ailment.
It is important to remember that stomach distress can also be caused by viruses or bacteria. Ulcers are usually treated with antibiotics. Medications such as aspirin can cause stomach distress. Another reason to see the doctor for prolonged cases of indigestion.
Keeping hydrated is important, especially if there is any diarrhea or vomiting along with stomach distress.
Eating slowly and exercising are important to good digestive health. Try to create a relaxing mood at mealtime. Eliminate heated discussions and put on some calming music. Chew your food. Take a walk to get the digestive system moving.