Indigestion, particularly heartburn, is a common condition said to affect one in three of us each month

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What is dyspepsia?

Dyspepsia, also known as chronic indigestion, refers to many different symptoms that cause discomfort or pain in the upper abdominal regions, such as the top part of your bowel (duodenum) or food pipe (oesophagus). The most common cause of dyspepsia is an excessive production of stomach acid or an over-sensitivity to this acid.

Need to know

Symptoms may include:

  • excessive belching
  • bloating
  • fullness
  • stomach pains
  • nausea, or even vomiting after eating

There are a number of factors that are thought to make the symptoms worse including increased air swallowing, poor relaxation of the stomach after eating, a high-fat diet, alcohol and fizzy drinks, obesity, stress, certain infections, stomach ulcers, a hiatus hernia and some medications.

The most common test for dyspepsia is an upper gastrointestinal Endoscopy. In this test a flexible telescope is passed via your mouth into your stomach and small intestine. Biopsies are taken at the same time. Other tests include an ultrasound or CT scan of your abdomen or the barium swallow test.

Treatments vary depending on the severity of your symptoms, but include:

  • simple steps such as altering your diet or losing weight
  • over-the-counter medications including antacids to reduce your amount of stomach acid
  • if the indigestion is being caused by a bacterial infection stronger antacids or antibiotics may be prescribed by your consultant
  • Anti-reflux surgery

If lifestyle changes and medications fail to relieve your symptoms, your consultant may recommend surgery. This involves creating a more effective valve between your oesophagus and stomach, called fundoplication. It is performed laparoscopically (as keyhole surgery).

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The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Princess Grace Hospital

The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place W1U 5NY London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.