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Indigestion – what if your dinner is like a stone in your stomach?

Almost everyone has had to fight against an upset stomach from time to time: noticeable by annoying symptoms such stomach pain, accompanied with the feeling of fullness or nausea and really upsetting your daily routines. But how do these complaints emerge? And more importantly, what can affected people do to prevent indigestion

Asian woman holding her stomach in pain, caused by indigestion.

What does indigestion mean?

Indigestion, dyspepsia, or as it is most commonly known – an upset stomach- may be characterized by a painful or even burning feeling in the upper belly area, feeling of fullness and early satiety. It is not a distinct disease, but rather a number of symptoms which often point to poor eating habits.

The symptoms might also be experienced with an existing gastric disorder, such as an ulcer, gastritis or irritable stomach.

In an upset stomach, the digestion may be impaired in the short term - and draws attention to itself by the corresponding symptoms. In addition to the dull feeling in the belly, the following complaints may typically occur:

  • bloating,
  • burning in the upper stomach,
  • nausea and even vomiting,
  • growling stomach,
  • stomach pain,
  • stomach cramps,
  • acid belching and
  • heartburn.
Blond haired woman working in a call centre, holds her forehead in pain, caused by indigestion.

What causes an upset stomach?

The triggers of indigestion can be extremely diverse - in some cases, several causes can even be responsible simultaneously. Even though a digestive tract disease might be to blame, most often it is simply the consequence of enjoying too much food, too fast or being stressed. The most common causes of an upset stomach include:

  • Nutrition and Diet: Spoiled, intolerable or difficult to digest foods that are high in fat or sugars can all have the same effect: the stomach is unable to prepare the food optimally for digestion - and would like to rid itself of the disruptive factors as quickly as possible. Similarly, hasty eating, combined with insufficient chewing or taking large bites plays a role.
  • Stress: stress can influence digestion as well. Stress hormones can energize the body to limit the functions of the digestive system: the motility (mobility) of the stomach may decrease. As a result, any underlying conditions that cause indigestion can worsen, especially if you add tiredness or a generally unhealthy lifestyle into the mix.

The symptoms of some disorders can be mistaken for an upset stomach, but are actually flare-ups of pre-existing conditions:

  • Gastritis: If you suffer from gastritis, an inflammation of the gastric mucosa, it may be that external factors such as bacteria, stress or even the intake of medicines have caused your stomach to not be able to protect itself sufficiently from its own digestive juices. The contained acids can directly attack the gastric mucosa and are thus responsible for your symptoms, which could be mistaken for an upset stomach.
  • Irritable stomach: Some people experience persistent symptoms, without the presence of an organic disease. The so-called irritable stomach, or functional dyspepsia, is a functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID), where the normal processes in the stomach are disturbed – the stomach movements may lose their rhythm, the stomach nerves are hypersensitive and the perception of pain increases. Symptoms, which lead to a feeling similar to an “upset stomach” can be triggered by diet, stress, even the lack of sleep.

Therefore, to root out the trigger of your personal, recurring complaints, you should not hesitate and, if necessary, consult a doctor. By describing your symptoms as clearly as possible and looking in-depth, they can advise you on appropriate treatment recommendations.

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How to distinguish between an upset stomach and functional dyspepsia?

Since the symptoms of an upset stomach and irritable stomach are quite similar, it’s important to make a distinction. Functional dyspepsia is a chronic functional disorder, persisting for more than seven days a month in the past three months. A diagnosis can only be made if the onset of any symptoms lies at least six months in the past. The most typical symptoms of irritable stomach include early satiety, or quickly feeling full when eating; an often-occurring feeling of fullness; bothersome upper abdominal pain and burning. The symptoms of functional dyspepsia can gradually worsen, come and go, or persist for some time. It’s important to remember that functional dyspepsia occurs without evidence of a particular physical illness. There is also no association with bodily functions (e.g. menstrual periods, bowel movements or food), medications or toxins.

As mentioned above, a simple upset stomach often goes away in a couple of hours, without any need for medical intervention. But should your symptoms become worse, or occur more often, you should consult your physician.

How to relieve indigestion?

What you can do against your upset stomach depends mainly on the underlying cause. However, some measures help in any case to relieve the annoying symptoms:

  • Eat right : Especially when your stomach is hit, it is advisable not only to look for a stomach-friendly diet, but also to adapt the way you eat. It is best to slowly eat several small meals throughout the day, while paying attention to your chewing.
  • Warm yourself up : You and your stomach may find it easier to calm down when cosy warmth helps you to relax. For example, use a hot water bottle or a cherry stone pillow.
  • Keep Calm : In order to recover from an upset stomach, make room for that recovery. In general, agitation and stress are good neither for your psyche nor your digestion - it is therefore important to set clear limits to everyday stress and do that regularly.

In addition, the oral liquid Iberogast® is suitable for alleviating – amongst others - motility-related symptoms of functional dyspepsia: Nine carefully selected, effective medicinal plants - from the bitter candytuft to chamomile – can help balance the stomach's movements, calm the nerves and relieve inflammation. And since many people not only suffer from individual but also changing or combined symptoms, herbal medicines can be a good alternative as they combine multiple natural active ingredients. Thus, herbals can treat a broader area of symptoms by their combined ingredients than chemical drugs - which often rely only on one specific mechanism of action. This effect of Iberogast® is also called multi-target principle.

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Disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract are usually not only extremely unpleasant and associated with numerous complaints, they often make a normal everyday life even harder. It’s good that there is Iberogast®: The combination of nine medicinal plants targets both the underlying causes and the annoying symptoms.

All about Iberogast®

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