Learn about the causes of Indigestion & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Indigestion within New Zealand.
Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is a common health problem often caused by over-eating or eating too fast. The resulting pain can be mild or severe, and is often accompanied by wind, bloating, nausea and heartburn. Other causes include ulcers and IBS.
Indigestion is the irritation of the lining of the oesophagus, stomach
or duodenum (the upper part of the small intestine) by stomach acid.
This triggers symptoms such as pain and discomfort in the abdomen,
heartburn and nausea.
In the majority of cases, indigestion is caused by acid reflux (acid from the stomach being forced into the oesophagus) but indigestion can be a sign of an underlying health problem if symptoms are persistent.
Medical conditions which can cause indigestion include:
Hpylori infection – The Heliobacter pylori bacteria can be a cause of frequent bouts of indigestion. The infection can damage the stomach lining causing a build up of acid.
Hiatus hernia – This type of hernia is caused by part of the stomach pushing up into the diaphragm and preventing the oesophageal sphincter from closing properly. This results in stomach acid escaping into the oesophagus.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – Known as 'acid reflux', this is a chronic problem caused by the weakening of the muscle which allows food to pass into the stomach at the base of the oesophagus (the oesophageal sphincter). After opening, the muscle fails to close properly causing stomach acid to escape back up into the gullet.
Medications – Aspirin and ibuprofen can trigger indigestion particularly if previous stomach problems such as ulcers have been diagnosed.
Obesity – Obesity places excess pressure on the abdomen forcing the muscle at the opening of the stomach (known as the oesophageal sphincter) to open and stomach acid to escape into the oesophagus (gullet).
Peptic ulcers – Often referred to as stomach ulcers, peptic ulcers can also appear at the top of the small intestine (duodenum) and form from damage to the lining of the stomach or duodenum wall by stomach acid. Peptic ulcers usually occur due to an H pylori bacterial infection.
Stomach cancer – Persistent indigestion can be a symptom of stomach cancer as cancerous cells break down the mucosa (the protective sticky lining in the stomach) allowing acid to irritate the stomach wall.
The common symptom of indigestion is pain or discomfort in the
abdominal area or chest usually after eating or drinking. However,
indigestion can be delayed with a few hours passing between eating and
the symptoms appearing.
Indigestion pain is often described as an aching, heavy sensation or burning in the stomach and chest. Heart burn may also be experienced and is a burning sensation behind the breastbone.
Other symptoms that may accompany indigestion include:
In the majority of cases, indigestion is mild and happens infrequently
so a diagnosis from a healthcare professional is not necessary. If
you're experiencing frequent bouts of indigestion which is causing pain
or discomfort and having an impact on your life then in the first
instance you should visit your GP.
Your GP will examine your abdominal area pressing gently to see if you experience any pain. The GP may also refer you for blood tests to check if you're anaemic (lacking red blood cells).
If the GP needs to investigate the cause of your indigestion further, they may refer you for an endoscopy. This will take place in hospital and a surgeon will examine your oesophagus and stomach using a long thin tube with a camera at one end. This is gently fed down the throat and into the stomach.
If you have previously been prescribed proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or H2-recepter antagonists for your stomach problems then you'll need to stop taking these two weeks before your procedure as these medications can mask some of the problems that would otherwise be picked up.
If an H pylori infection is suspected, your GP can use a number of tests to identify the bacteria. The tests are: a urea breath test, a stool antigen test or a blood test.
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