Are you getting some stomach discomforts that are dampening your celebrations? You may be experiencing a very common condition which can be easily avoided and treated.  Despite having slightly different symptoms, both indigestion and heartburn can be approached the same way.  Below lists a few symptoms of indigestion and heartburn.  If you are uncertain or concerned about your symptoms, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

 Symptoms of Indigestion & Heartburn

Alarm bells

In some circumstances, the symptoms of indigestion and heartburn can either suggest an underlying condition or point towards another medication condition.  If you experience any of the following, speak to your doctor immediately.

  • First time experiencing symptoms, especially if over 50 or under 18 years
  • If symptoms are experienced more than once a week
  • Symptoms of heartburn wake you at night
  • Symptoms are getting worse or are severe
  • Recurring symptoms even with treatment
  • Difficulty or painful to swallow
  • Bowel motions are black and tar-like or have blood in them
  • If you vomit and vomit looks like coffee grounds or has blood in it
  • Unknown weight loss
  • Symptoms worsen after exercise
  • Also experience shortness of breath, sweating or pain radiating to your jaw, neck, arm or back

Heartburn and GORD explained

The oesophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.  Where it connects to the stomach is a muscular ring call the Lower Oesophageal Sphincter (LOS).  The LOS opens to allow food and drink to pass from the oesophagus to the stomach, and usually remains closed to prevent stomach acid from going up to the oesophagus.  In patients with Gastric Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD), the LOS opens at inappropriate times, allowing harsh stomach acid to back up into the oesophagus, and heartburn is one of the most common symptoms.  If GORD is not treated, damage to the oesophagus could occur.  If you suffer from frequent and persistent heartburn, visit your doctor or pharmacist for advice on medicines and lifestyle changes.  

Watch the video below for a closer look at why heartburn and GORD occurs.



 Causes of Indigestion

Below are just a few common causes of indigestion.  Knowing what causes your indigestion and heartburn can help you avoid it next time.

 Causes of Indigestion

 

Diet & Lifestyle Changes

Many of the causes of indigestion are easily avoidable and managed.  Below are just a few tips on how to still enjoy your celebrations without the burning after-effects.  

  • Eat less foods that trigger heartburn and indigestion - fatty and spicy food, chocolate, peppermint
  • Eat smaller meals. Don’t over eat.
  • Eat slowly and chew food well
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Have less caffeine containing drinks – coffee, tea, some soft drinks, energy drinks
  • Don’t dry swallow medicines. Always swallow with a glass of water
  • Don’t eat within 2-3 hours of going to bed
  • Don’t slump in a chair, bend over or lie down after meals
  • Go for a short walk after meals
  • Wear loose clothing around the waist
  • Raise the head of the bed
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke
  • Use relaxation techniques to manage stress

Medicines for Indigestion & Heartburn

There are a range of different heartburn and indigestion medications available at the pharmacy.  Speak to your pharmacist for the best medicine for you and whether further consultation with a doctor is required.  As these medications can interfere with some other medications, always ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other medications.  Below are just a few examples of medications you can find at the pharmacy.

Zantac rangeMylanta Range

Gaviscon rangeDegas range