Dyspepsia (indigestion): what it is, symptoms, remedies and types


What is?

Dyspepsia (indigestion), very confused with gastritis and poor digestion, is a compilation of common symptoms, such as eructation (belching), nausea, flatulence, vomiting, a burning sensation in the “mouth” of the stomach and swelling, which are felt in the upper region the abdomen, usually right after eating food.

It is related to problems in peristalsis, which are involuntary contractions of the digestive system to assist food in its correct path. It is not a serious condition, but it can have consequences when left untreated.

Dyspepsia is very common, about 20% of the population has already experienced some symptom. In Brazil, the incidence is 40%.

When is it not dyspepsia?

Stomach pain or back pain are not symptoms of dyspepsia. It is necessary to check that it does not consist of constipation instead of indigestion. Dyspepsia is very confused with gastritis, which is an inflammation in the stomach, which may or may not cause similar symptoms.

Dyspepsia, heartburn and acid reflux: what’s the difference?

The heartburn may be a symptom of dyspepsia, heartburn is however associated with acid reflux disease, which is the regurgitation of stomach contents (can be immediately after eating or hours) or acid in the esophagus.

Index – in this article you will find the following information:

  1. What is?
  2. When is it not dyspepsia?
  3. Dyspepsia, heartburn and acid reflux what is the difference?
  4. Types and causes
  5. Risk factors
  6. What are the symptoms?
  7. When and how to diagnose?
  8. Helicobacter pylori and dyspepsia
  9. Is dyspepsia curable?
  10. How is the treatment?
  11. Natural treatment
  12. How to live with dyspepsia?
  13. What are the complications?

Types and causes of dyspepsia

The types of dyspepsia are related to their causes. Understand:

Organic dyspepsia

Caused by organic diseases found in the digestive tract such as:

  • Peptic ulcers;
  • Gallstones;
  • Esophagitis;
  • Pancreatitis;
  • Hiatus hernia;
  • Gastritis;
  • Stomach cancer (rare);
  • Thyroid disease.

Functional dyspepsia

Dyspepsia is related to several eating habits such as excessive consumption of alcohol and cigarettes, eating too fast and too much, eating too many foods with pepper and caffeine. However, there are medical conditions that can cause indigestion:

  • Depression;
  • Stress;
  • Food poisoning;
  • Allergy;
  • Food sensitivity.

Other causes may be the use of medications such as antibiotics , steroids, digoxin, antidiabetics, corticosteroids, anti-inflammatories, opioids, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.

Risk factors

People over 45 and obese are more likely to experience the symptoms of indigestion.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can be confused with other illnesses. Therefore, before self-diagnosis, it is recommended to seek medical advice.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Abdominal pain;
  • Heartburn (burning sensation);
  • Flatulence (gases);
  • Nausea;
  • Feeling of abdominal distension.

Alarm symptoms

In addition to these, there are some more serious symptoms to which the patient needs to be alert. Are they:

  • Reflux;
  • Swelling in the stomach area;
  • Digestive bleeding;
  • Ictia;
  • Vomiting;
  • Early feeling of satiety, even with small meals;
  • Eructation (belching);
  • Unexplained weight loss;
  • Dysphagia (sensation of food “stuck” in the esophagus);
  • Anemia.


In pregnancy, dyspepsia symptoms may occur, but they are caused by hormonal changes or pressure in the stomach due to the enlargement of the uterus. 8 out of 10 mothers experienced at least one symptom of indigestion at some point during pregnancy.


In cases of obesity, indigestion may be more common, causing more symptoms to appear, as it has greater pressure inside the stomach, especially after a meal. It can cause reflux as well.

When and how to diagnose?

Once symptoms are detected, medical intervention is required. A general practitioner or  gastroenterologist can diagnose dyspepsia. The diagnosis is made, preferably, by exclusion, and can only be established after other gastrointestinal diseases are ruled out. The patient cannot have any disease that justifies his pain, such as problems in the pancreas or gallbladder.

The Rome Consensus is the systematization and updating of clinical criteria for the treatment and diagnosis of gastrointestinal diseases. The Rome III Consensus, one of its updates, classifies dyspepsia as:

  • Epigastric pain syndrome: characterized by pain in the upper abdomen;
  • Postprandial discomfort syndrome: classified as the feeling of early satiety, nausea and vomiting.

From exams, clinical data are collected. When these do not reveal any injury to the walls of the stomach or duodenum (which can bring similar symptoms), then dyspepsia is diagnosed.

Blood test (blood count)

If the patient has symptoms of anemia , a blood test may be performed to diagnose dyspepsia.


An endoscopy may be ordered by the doctor. The exam is painless and consists of the insertion of a thin tube with an endoscope (camera) at the tip through the patient’s throat, to check for possible lesions that are causing the symptoms. If, by chance, there is nothing, dyspepsia can be diagnosed.

Liver function test

If the doctor suspects gallstones, a blood test may be performed to check how well the liver is working.

Abdominal ultrasound

High frequency sound waves show movement, structure and blood flow during digestion. A gel is applied to the patient’s abdomen and a small device that emits sound waves is pressed against the skin. From there, an image is projected on the viewing screen and the doctor can see the inside of the abdomen in detail.

Ultrasound is a test widely used by pregnant women to check the health of the fetus.

Abdominal computed tomography

Computed tomography involves an injection of dye and then a series of X-rays is taken to produce images of the patient’s abdomen.

Stool protoparasitological

If worms are suspected in the intestine, stool examination can be performed to detect them.

For best results of this exam, it is recommended to collect the first feces of the day, early in the morning.

Helicobacter pylori and dyspepsia

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that can cause an infection in the stomach, or ulcers, that cause the symptoms of dyspepsia. However, to detect this bacterium, blood tests are necessary. The treatment of this infection is done with antibiotics.

Is dyspepsia curable?

Because it is not a disease, but a set of symptoms, dyspepsia can be treated and its symptoms can be reduced, but the patient can use some home treatments that help in reducing the symptoms.

How is the treatment?

Once diagnosed, treatment depends largely on the severity of the symptoms. Dyspepsia can be treated in two ways:

Drug treatment

A wide variety of medications can help with the symptoms of dyspepsia. Antacids are used to decrease the burning sensation in the stomach and antigases to decrease flatulence.

If dyspepsia is caused by Helicobacter pylori , antibiotics are used to stop the bacteria. Antidepressants can be used to treat indigestion when caused by mental illness or depression .


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Natural treatment

Natural treatment seeks to alleviate symptoms, but there is no evidence of its efficacy and safety. Some tips are:


The ginger has been widely used to reduce the symptoms of dyspepsia, as it relaxes the intestinal muscles and helps move food eaten throughout the digestive system.

To use ginger, place about 1 inch of peeled ginger root in a cup of boiling water. After warm, strain and drink.

To relax

The stress has much influence on the symptoms of dyspepsia, so relaxing is very effective in such cases. There are several ways to relax and the most effective method can change from patient to patient. Some widely practiced activities are yoga, massage, physical exercise, spending time in contact with nature, among others.


Food directly influences the functioning of the intestine. To reduce the symptoms of dyspepsia, it is recommended to avoid spicy, processed foods that contain lactose, artificial sweeteners, acidic foods (such as tomato sauce) or that can give gas , such as beans , broccoli, brussels sprouts or cauliflower.

You can change some habits at the time of feeding, such as:

  • Eat smaller meals, more regularly (6 times a day);
  • Eat slowly, avoiding ingesting excess air when chewing;
  • Wait about 2 to 3 hours to lie down after a meal;
  • Avoid eating too close to bedtime at night;
  • Drink water regularly and stay hydrated.

Practice good habits

Some habits can help to reduce the symptoms of indigestion:

  • Quit smoking;
  • Lose weight;
  • Raise the pillow 10 to 15 centimeters when lying down;
  • Avoid exercising immediately after eating;
  • Identify actions that cause stress and avoid them;
  • Sleep properly.

Fruit juices

Because it contains a lot of nutrients, juices from some fruits can help in the functioning of the intestine. Fruit juices such as orange, pineapple, lemon and grape are recommended , as well as cumin and fennel infusions.

How to live with dyspepsia?

After treatment, both medicated and natural, the symptoms may decrease to the point of not interfering with daily activities. This makes dyspepsia very easy to live with.

Remember not to self-medicate, if you notice symptoms see a doctor for guidance.

Psychological support

Dyspepsia patients can seek psychological support to address emotional issues and make the patient feel better. This can also relieve symptoms such as stress. If no therapeutic measures work, treatment with antidepressants may be more effective.

What are the complications?

Dyspepsia rarely causes complications, but they can have serious consequences, such as:

Esophageal stenosis

Reflux is the return of acid from the stomach to the esophagus. In the long run, this constant turn irritates the mucosa, causing a narrowing of the canal, called esophageal stricture. This causes the person to have difficulty swallowing, among others. Food can get stuck in the throat, which causes chest pain . To resolve this issue, there are surgeries for enlargement of the esophagus.

Pyloric stenosis

When the opposite of reflux occurs, that is, acid from the stomach goes to the intestine, the passage between these two organs, called the pylorus, can become narrow and healed. Surgeries can also be performed to enlarge the pylorus.


The peritoneum is the layer of tissue that lines the abdomen wall. Because of dyspepsia, there may be inflammation of this tissue, which causes discomfort and pain.

In that case, surgery can help repair the damage caused by the inflammation. If it is not effective, antibiotics can be administered to help.

Because of having common symptoms, many people deal with dyspepsia on a daily basis. Do not self-medicate and seek medical advice to be able to treat properly.

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