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What is Painful Indigestion?

Today, many people think that painful indigestion and heartburn are two different terms for the same problem. In actuality, this isn’t true at all. Painful indigestion and heartburn are quite different, and often warrant different treatments.

The Differences

It is true that heartburn and indigestion are related. Heartburn is actually a possible byproduct of indigestion – that is, it’s one possible symptom. Just because you have painful indigestion does not mean you will have heartburn. Heartburn is an occasional symptom, but indigestion often appears without being accompanied by heartburn.

First of all, what exactly is indigestion? Indigestion is not easy to describe in specific terms, but is generally described as discomfort in the chest or upper region. Being nauseated, feeling bloated or suffering from excessive flatulence are good indicators that you may be experiencing indigestion.

The Causes

So what is the culprit of painful indigestion and heartburn? Heartburn, first of all, is usually caused by eating too much food too quickly. Some other causes may include fatty and spicy foods and alcohol.

As discussed earlier, heartburn is one symptom of indigestion. Because of this, all the aforementioned symptoms can be applied to indigestion also without necessarily implicating heartburn is occurring. Additionally, gastritis, smoking, ulcers of the duodenum, gastric ulcers, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs are some potential causes of indigestion.

The Symptoms

So heartburn is just one symptom of indigestion. Heartburn is usually described as a burning sensation in the chest. Other potential symptoms of indigestion are nausea, flatulence, and loss of appetite. If you are suffering from indigestion that occurs regularly, then it may be a good idea to consult a physician.

Someone who is over the age of 50 and experiences indigestion for the first time in their life should also see a doctor, as this is somewhat unusual and may implicate other root problems. Losing significant weight unexpectedly should also raise an alarm.

Continue reading to discover tips to reduce the incidence of heartburn and indigestion and sign up for the free heartburn, acid reflux and GERD newsletter below.


The following are some simple guidelines that will help alleviate indigestion and heartburn:

- Smaller Meals – limiting your portion size is a good first step to eliminating indigestion and heartburn. A good way to judge this is just to stop eating right as you begin to feel full.

- Slower Meals – slowing down when you eat is a good idea no matter what. Allow yourself time to pause between bites. Inhaling food too quickly is a surefire way to bring about indigestion.

- Smart food choices – some foods can bring about acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion. Although these can be different for individuals try to avoid foods high in fat, fried foods, spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol.

- No Smoking – avoid smoking, and for that matter, avoid drinking alcohol as well. Not only will you be healthier as a result, you will also significantly reduce your chances for suffering from painful indigestion.

While heartburn and painful indigestion are prevalent medical conditions in today’s society, this doesn’t mean they can’t be avoided or alleviated. Simply follow the guidelines above, and you’ll have a great start on improving your odds.

By Kathryn Whittaker. Sign up for a free newsletter that has proven methods for tackling Acid Reflux, Heartburn and GERD head-on and discover more about painful indigestion. In the newsletter you'll also find more about the different kinds of acid reflux help and what to do if you have severe heartburn.