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  • Don't Feel So Good? Check for Indigestion

    Bloating, uncomfortable fullness, and even nausea point to impatso. Here's how to deal with it.
    by Jillianne E. Castillo .
Don't Feel So Good? Check for Indigestion
PHOTO BY unica.ro
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • Dahan-dahan, baka ma-impatso ka!” is a phrase common during celebrations and feasts. But what exactly is impatso, or indigestion, and what causes it? Here’s a quick guide: 

    What is indigestion
    Also called dyspepsia or impatso in Filipino, indigestion isn’t a condition in itself. Rather, it’s a general term that describes a pain or discomfort in the upper part of your stomach, says Mayo Clinic. It can be caused by another digestive disease, but often it can be eased or prevented with lifestyle changes like -- yep, you guessed it -- avoiding overeating.   

    Symptoms of indigestion include:

    • Bloating 
    • Nausea
    • Belly pain
    • Uncomfortable fullness

    These symptoms usually occur immediately after a meal or sometimes a few moments after. People also sometimes experience heartburn with indigestion. Heartburn is when acid moves up to the esophagus causing a burning pain in the chest, says the National Health Service of the U.K. (NHS). These are two separate conditions, however, and can occur together or on their own. 

    Causes of indigestion
    Most people get indigestion from eating too much or too fast (which is why we tell people “dahan-dahan” whenever they do one or both). Indigestion can also be caused by the type of food you ate. The common culprits are fatty, greasy or spicy food.  

    Drinking too much alcohol or smoking can also cause it as well as anxiety or stress, certain antibiotics, iron supplements, and pain relievers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and mefenamic acid. 

    Pregnant women are also more prone to indigestion, which is partly caused by hormonal changes and the pressure a growing baby puts on the stomach particularly during the middle and latter part of the pregnancy. According to the NHS, as many as eight out of 10 pregnant women experience indigestion. 

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    Treatment and prevention
    Indigestion can go away on its own, so sometimes all it takes is to wait it out. If symptoms are persistent, however, talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter antacids that neutralize gastric acid, relieving indigestion.  

    To prevent indigestion, often a lifestyle change is all it takes. WebMD suggests, eating smaller meals and eating slowly. Avoid foods that can cause indigestion as well like those mentioned above as well as citrus foods and tomatoes which are acidic. You can also try cutting back on caffeine, alcohol and quitting smoking. 

    Try to relax after a meal, but don’t lie down and avoid rigorous physical activity right after eating. Exercise before or 1 hour after a meal. When you know you’ll be eating more than usual, avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing as these put added pressure on your stomach. Learn to manage stress and anxiety as well if these are triggers.  

    When to see a doctor 

    Sometimes, indigestion is caused by an underlying digestive problem. These can be: 

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    • Gastritis
    • Ulcers
    • Gallstones
    • Constipation
    • Celiac disease
    • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
    • Gastroparesis (a condition where the muscles in the stomach do not function normally)
    • Stomach cancer

    Mild indigestion is usually not a cause for concern, but severe pain or indigestion lasting for more than two weeks can be a sign of a more serious problem. Consult your doctor if you have black stools, are continually vomiting, have trouble swallowing or have been unintentionally losing weight. Immediate medical attention should be given to those who have trouble breathing or are experiencing pain up to the neck. 

    Sources: National Health Service, Mayo Clinic, WebMD

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