Greasy fried foods are common causes of indigestion

Indigestion: Causes, Symptoms and Relief

What is indigestion?
Indigestion symptoms
What causes indigestion?

What is indigestion?

Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is a general term for pain or discomfort felt after meals in the stomach region, associated with difficulty in digesting food. It can strike at any time, but is most common shortly after eating.

Indigestion is very normal and most people will experience it at some point. You could suffer a couple of times a year or feel symptoms regularly. The discomfort or pain of indigestion can range from mild to severe and can last for a few minutes to several unhappy hours.

Unfortunately, indigestion can be unavoidable during pregnancy as the body changes hormonally and physically. To find out more about Rennie and pregnancy, visit our heartburn & indigestion during pregnancy page. Indigestion in pregnancy can be easily treatable with Rennie*, and needn't ruin your day.

Taking a picture of a meal on a mobile phone

Eating heavy meals or fatty foods can irritate the belly.

Indigestion symptoms

Signs and symptoms of indigestion are:

  • A pain that typically starts in the upper abdomen and moves up behind your breastbone
  • Pain behind the ribs
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • A rumbling or gurgling stomach
  • A knotted stomach or cramps
  • Bloated stomach
  • Feeling uncomfortable after eating
  • Excessive burping or flatulence
  • A burning sensation in your belly

I get such bad cramps when I go to bed, I can’t get to sleep.

What causes indigestion?

When you eat, your stomach produces acid.  Indigestion is often caused by excess stomach acid coming into contact with the sensitive, protective lining of the stomach, the top part of the bowel, or the oesophagus, which can cause soreness and swelling.  This produces a feeling of discomfort which can feel like a ‘fire in your belly’, particularly if your digestive lining is especially sensitive to acid.

We all experience Indigestion differently, and its triggers are different for each of us. Try looking out for patterns in what you eat and when you suffer. Other common causes are:

Woman cutting a slice of pizza at table
  • 1. Drinking alcohol

    Alcohol causes your stomach to produce more acid than normal, which can irritate your stomach lining.
  • 2. Smoking

    The chemicals in the smoke can cause the muscle between the oesophagus and stomach to relax, allowing acid to escape in to the digestive system.
  • 3. A busy stressful lifestyle

    Symptoms of indigestion usually increase in times of stress, and get better when you’re relaxed. Stress and anxiety can have a huge impact on our digestion, leading to an increased production of stomach acid.
  • 4. Eating heavy meals or fatty foods

    can irritate the belly. Eating too fast also encourages indigestion.

Persistent indigestion sometimes occurs as a result of an ulcer, taking certain medications, or another condition. If you think this might be you, make an appointment with your GP.

Suffering from indigestion? Read some treatment tips to help relieve the symptoms of indigestion.