Indigestion is characterized by pain or discomfort in the upper abdominal area (below the breastbone and above the belly button). Heartburn feels like a burning sensation in the center of the chest or behind the breastbone. Symptoms are persistent or recurring, and may include:
- Pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen
- Burning chest pain beginning behind the breastbone that may move upward to the neck and throat
- Excessive burping
- A bloated, gassy feeling
- A feeling of fullness after only small meals
- Nausea and/or vomiting
If you have “sour belches” or burning pain that occurs when you lie down and improves when you sit up, your heartburn may be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Abdominal pain that improves with eating may indicate an ulcer.
Bowel habits are usually not affected. If diarrhea or constipation is the main symptom, it usually indicates another problem, such as a bowel disorder.
Risk factors for heartburn and indigestion include being overweight, smoking, and heavy drinking.
Eating large and high-fat meals may lead to indigestion and those who do so regularly are at increased risk.
High intake of caffeine is also associated with indigestion. Drinking coffee, tea, or colas (drinks which contain caffeine) is also considered to be a risk factor.
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