How to Cure Indigestion

Three Methods:Coping With SymptomsSeeking Medical AdviceConsidering Alternative Treatments

Also known as dyspepsia, indigestion is a set of upper abdomen symptoms that may include pain, nausea, bloating, or feeling full after a light meal.[1]

Method 1
Coping With Symptoms

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    Keep a food diary each day. Write down what you eat for each meal and note whether you experienced indigestion afterward.[2] It can take anywhere up to 72 hours for some foods or beverages to cause indigestion, so keeping the diary faithfully each day will help you track down your triggers. Prevent indigestion by avoiding situations or foods that trigger it for you.[3]
    • Spicy, fatty or greasy foods often trigger indigestion.[4]
    • Foods that contain a lot of acid, like citrus and tomatoes, may contribute to indigestion.[5]
    • If you notice a pattern of foods causing you discomfort, discontinue or limit your consumption of these dishes.
    • You can also download an app to your smartphone to make tracking your diet a little easier.
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    Change the way that you eat. Eating too much food or eating too quickly can trigger indigestion. Never rush while eating. Eating several small meals throughout the day, rather than a few large meals, can help.[6] Here are some other things to try:
    • Chew food slowly and completely before swallowing.
    • Try not to chew with your mouth open and talk before swallowing.
    • Avoid swallowing air. This can happen when you gulp a beverage or talk a lot while eating.
    • Allow enough time to eat your meal.
    • Avoid exercising right after eating.
    • Avoid drinking with your meals. Drink 20 minutes before or after meals. It is probably okay to sip room temperature water during meals.
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    Modify your lifestyle. Smoking tobacco and drinking caffeinated beverages often contribute to indigestion. Work on eliminating these products as part of a healthy lifestyle.[7]
    • Smoking can also lead to irritation of the lining of the stomach causing abdominal pain.
    • Carbonated beverages can cause irritation of the lining of the stomach causing abdominal pain [8]
    • Discuss your symptoms with a doctor to see what other modifications may help. [9]
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    Change your sleeping habits. Avoid lying down with indigestion symptoms as this can make them worse. Sleep better by not going to bed until your symptoms are gone.
    • Whenever possible, wait at least three hours after eating before going to bed.
    • Do not recline on the couch or in a chair immediately after eating.
    • Place blocks under the bed legs at the head of the bed to elevate your head and shoulders. You can also use a few pillows or a foam wedge, if you cannot elevate your bed.[10]
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    Reduce stress. Avoid stress and anxiety as they can contribute to stomach discomfort. Take steps to reduce pressures at work and at home in order to help calm indigestion.[11]
    • Try to avoid arguments or contention during meals.
    • Get enough sleep at night.
    • Try activities such as yoga, meditation, and regular exercise.[12]
    • Engage in relaxing activities that will reduce your overall stress.
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    Take an antacid. Consume antacids to change the stomach acid that may contribute to indigestion. Liquid antacids act more quickly, while tablets are easier to use or carry with you. Antacids may affect other medications you are taking, so do not take them at the same time. Consult your doctor if you are concerned.[13]
    • Most antacids can be purchased over the counter, but may cause different side effects.
    • Take an antacid about an hour after eating, or whenever your heartburn usually occurs.
    • Do not take antacids for a prolonged period of time, as they may cause vitamin B12 deficiency. This is especially true for medications called "proton pump inhibitors," such as Prilosec and Prevacid.[14] If your indigestion continues for more than two weeks, see your doctor.[15]
    • Be aware that there is some evidence that decreasing stomach acid may actually worsen symptoms for some people. It also may be a factor in stomach and small bowel bacterial overgrowth — these studies are ongoing. If you experience a worsening of symptoms after taking an antacid, stop taking them and talk to your doctor.

Method 2
Seeking Medical Advice

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    Rule out heartburn. Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, is treated differently as it is not the same thing as indigestion, although they often occur together. Heartburn happens when acid from the stomach flows up the esophagus. Heartburn is particularly common for pregnant women and the elderly. Watch for the following symptoms:[16]
    • Burning behind the breastbone or in the throat.
    • Bitter and sour taste of acid in the back of the throat.
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    Check your medicine cabinet. Avoid antibiotics, aspirin and over-the-counter NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve), as they can contribute to indigestion.[17] Taking estrogen and oral contraceptives may also cause indigestion.[18]
    • When possible, avoid these products or discuss with your doctor how to cope with side effects.
    • Take medications on a full stomach to reduce side effects.[19]
    • Other medications that may cause indigestion include: steroids (e.g., prednisone), antibiotics (e.g., tetracycline, erythromycin), thyroid medications, blood pressure medications, cholesterol medications (statin), and codeine.[20]
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    Rule out other GI conditions. Ask your doctor if you have any other conditions that might be responsible for your symptoms. Discuss your indigestion with your doctor as treatments may vary. Keep in mind that the following conditions may be responsible for your symptoms.[21]
    • Celiac disease
    • Peptic ulcers
    • Stomach cancer
    • Gallstones
    • Small bowel bacterial overgrowth
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    Call your doctor. Severe indigestion may be an indicator of a serious underlying condition. Describe your symptoms as precisely as possible. Saying you have stomach pain may not be enough to help your doctor diagnose you properly. Call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:[22]
    • Indigestion that persists for more than two weeks and does not respond to home remedies.
    • Significant weight loss.
    • Nausea or repeated vomiting.
    • Stool is dark, bloody, or the consistency of tar.
    • Symptoms of anemia, such as ongoing fatigue or physical weakness.
    • Chronic use of antacids for indigestion.
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    Have a blood test performed. Your doctor may order a blood test to allow her to test for a variety of conditions.[23] A blood test will allow your doctor to test your thyroid functioning and attempt to rule out any metabolic disorders.
    • Your doctor can also test your blood for celiac disease, an inflammatory condition that can cause symptoms such as indigestion.[24]
    • Your blood can also be tested for anemia, a sign that you may have Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes severe digestive symptoms including indigestion.[25]
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    Have a stool test done. A stool test can help your doctor discover infection and inflammation.[26] A common bacterial infection, Helicobacter pylori, can cause symptoms of indigestion and may cause peptic (stomach) ulcers.[27][28]
    • A stool test can also reveal intestinal dysbiosis, an imbalance of bacteria in your digestive system that can cause issues such as indigestion. This can occur if you take antibiotics and do not get your gut flora back to proper levels.[29][30]
    • Your doctor may test your stool for Giardia lamblia, a common parasitic infection that causes indigestion.[31][32] If Giardia lamblia is present, your doctor may prescribe a course of metronidazole (Flagyl) or Tinidazole.[33]
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    Consider a colonoscopy to test for Crohn’s disease. If your blood test suggests that you may have Crohn’s disease, your doctor may order a colonoscopy. She will use a small, flexible tube and camera to examine the inside of your colon.[34]
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    Ask for a referral to a gastroenterologist. If your primary physician finds signs of a more serious condition, or if antacids and other medications have not worked to treat your indigestion, you may consider seeing a gastroenterologist. These doctors specialize in treating conditions affecting the digestive system[35]

Method 3
Considering Alternative Treatments

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    Ask your doctor about alternative treatments to treat your indigestion. Alternative treatments are believed by some to help soothe or limit the effects of indigestion. Use these treatments in conjunction with your doctor’s orders.[36]
    • Many alternative treatments are not proven clinically and could cause negative interactions with prescription medications or existing medical conditions.
    • Always ask your doctor before starting any home remedy to avoid any medical complications.
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    Try enteric-coated peppermint capsules. You should talk with your doctor before using peppermint. Peppermint can help soothe some types of indigestion by calming your stomach muscles and improving bile flow, it can also cause relaxation of the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach, which can lead to worsening reflux. Using enteric-coated peppermint as opposed to a peppermint tea will avoid the relaxation of the sphincter.
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    Make chamomile tea. Chamomile has been used to treat indigestion and other stomach ailments.[37] There is insufficient scientific evidence to say that chamomile will cure indigestion, but it may help relieve some people’s symptoms.[38][39]
    • You can make a chamomile tea by steeping two to three teaspoons of dried chamomile in one cup of boiling water. Strain the tea after it has steeped for 10 minutes. You can drink this tea up to three to four times per day between meals.[40]
    • People with ragweed or daisy allergies may have an allergic reaction to chamomile. Chamomile may also function like estrogen in the body, so women who have a history of hormone-sensitive cancers should use it with caution. Talk to your doctor before using chamomile.[41]
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    Try artichoke leaf extract. Artichoke leaf extract is believed to work by stimulating bile flow, which helps improve your digestion. [42] You can purchase commercial artichoke leaf extract preparations. Take two 320mg caplets per day.[43]
    • Artichoke leaf extract could cause gas or allergic reactions in some people. People who have allergies to marigolds, daisies, or ragweed are more likely to experience an allergic reaction.[44]
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    Try iberogast (STW5). Iberogast is an herbal combination preparation that is generally safe to use in treating indigestion.[45][46] It contains a proprietary blend of extracts of bitter candytuft, peppermint, caraway, licorice, celandine, caraway, angelica root, balm leaf, chamomile, and milk thistle.[47]
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    Engage in relaxation therapy. Stress can trigger the onset of indigestion. Removing stress from your life can help to stop indigestion before it starts, or lessen the effects of it.[48]
    • Ask your doctor about relaxation techniques.
    • Practice progressive muscle relaxation.
    • Guided imagery may help you as well.
  7. 7
    Take probiotics. Probiotics encourage the growth of the healthy, helpful bacteria in your GI system. Medications, illnesses, and other factors can throw off the balance of bacteria in your stomach and intestines. Taking probiotics may help restore that balance, possibly easing your indigestion. There are different strains of probiotics that are good for different ailments, so talk to your doctor about which kind might be right for you.


  • Limited studies suggest that acupuncture may help relieve chronic indigestion.[49][50] Schedule an appointment with a local acupuncturist and note any results.[51]
  • Ask your doctor if acupuncture is right for you. Some people, such as those with bleeding disorders or a pacemaker, may not react well to acupuncture.[52] Always choose a trained acupuncturist who has been certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. This certification is a legal requirement in 43 US states and the District of Columbia.[53]


  • If your chest pain is radiating to your neck and arms, or your chest pain gets worse when stressed, you may be experiencing a medical emergency. Seek immediate emergency medical attention!
  • Shortness of breath or sweating along with your chest pain may also indicate an emergency. Contact emergency services if these symptoms are present.[54]

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Categories: Intestinal and Digestive Health