What are the common causes of heartburn and indigestion?
Indigestion is a generalized term used to describe one or more symptoms occurring in the upper abdomen or foregut. It encompasses symptoms like heartburn, epigastric abdominal pain or burning, nausea, early satiety, or early fullness while/after eating, decreased appetite, gas, bloating, burping, et al.
Heartburn is a burning sensation that rises from the upper abdomen into the chest behind the breast-bone. It typically reflects the reflux of irritating stomach acid into the esophagus damaging it’s lining and causing pain. However, heartburn can sometimes result from other gastrointestinal conditions of the foregut. These include but are not limited to eosinophilic esophagitis, peptic ulcer disease, gastroparesis, pancreatic or hepatobiliary disease, and even malignancy. In some cases, a patient has indigestion for which a cause cannot be found aka “functional dyspepsia”. Only your gastroenterologist can decipher these conditions – some of which are very serious requiring immediate attention. Heartburn requires investigation if it becomes a chronic and/or distressing condition, associated with other symptoms or unresponsive to over the counter medications. If heartburn is due to reflux then you have a condition called “Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease” (GERD) which requires evaluation and treatment as the condition can lead to various complications.
How do our doctors determine the cause of your heartburn and indigestion?
A detailed history and physical examination is the foundation for determining the cause of one’s heartburn and indigestion. In addition, Our doctors are able to use a variety of tools including blood work, imaging, and endoscopy to confirm the diagnosis. Because indigestion can be a sign of a more serious condition one should visit our doctors especially if they experience alarming symptoms including vomiting, bleeding, weight loss, and symptoms that persist and/or worsen.
What treatments are available for heartburn and indigestion?
Depending on the underlying cause our doctors are able to provide alleviation through various medications and dietary modifications. Some of the medications commonly used are proton pump inhibitors, prokinetic agents, pain modifiers, and anti-spasmotics.