Pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen, usually after eating, that may have a variety of causes

  • More common in adults
  • Stress, being overweight, smoking, and certain dietary habits are risk factors
  • Gender and genetics are not significant factors

Most people have had a few episodes of upper abdominal discomfort related to eating, usually called indigestion. The condition is more common in adults. Smoking and being overweight increase the risk. Most cases are not serious.

Usually, indigestion follows a meal, especially one that includes rich, fatty, or heavily spiced food. Overeating, consuming too much alcohol or coffee, and eating too quickly can also cause discomfort, as can stress and drugs such as aspirin that irritate the digestive tract. If indigestion persists or becomes more severe, or if you start to vomit, lose your appetite, or lose weight, you should consult your doctor. These symptoms may be a sign of conditions such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, a peptic ulcer, or, in rare cases, stomach cancer.

Antacids can usually relieve mild indigestion. There are also some self-help measures to avoid future attacks (see Preventing indigestion).

Self-help: Preventing Indigestion

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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