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Indigestion

Pain due to heartburn and indigestion often radiates between the shoulder blades, whereas oesophageal spasm (sometimes triggered by acid reflux) more commonly causes chest pain, and can be mistaken for cardiac chest pain.

Indigestion encompasses a vast array of symptoms in the upper digestive tract, including:

  • Heartburn
  • Fullness
  • Early satiety
  • Upper abdominal ache or pain
  • Flatulence
  • Hiccoughs
  • Belching

These symptoms are known collectively as dyspepsia, and this occurs in up to 10% of the adult population. At least half of these seek medical help, and dyspepsia accounts for 40% of referrals to a gastroenterologist.

Standard medical treatment includes lifestyle changes:
·      Smaller meals
·      Stopping smoking
·      Reducing alcohol intake
·      Losing weight
·      Not eating late at night
·      Raising the head of the bed
·      Not drinking with meals
In addition simple antacids, or medications such as ranitidine or omeprazole which irreversibly blocks acid production, are employed.

More Information about Indigestion

Dyspepsia

Dyspepsia can be classified as:

  •     ‘Reflux-like’ if heartburn or chest pain predominate
  •     ‘Ulcer-like’ if it gives the impression of a peptic ulcer
  •    ‘Functional’ if there is no clear sign of organic disease

Heartburn

Heartburn is the key to identifying reflux-like dyspepsia. It is decribed as a burning sensation felt behind the sternum or breastbone. It is a diffuse pain and is usually made worse by lying down or leaning forward.

‘Waterbrash’ is excessive saliva production as a response to the presence of acid in the lower oesophagus.

Pain due to heartburn often radiates between the shoulder blades, whereas oesophageal spasm (sometimes triggered by acid reflux) more commonly causes chest pain, and can be mistaken for cardiac chest pain. Oesophageal spasm pain is typically

  •      Felt behind the sternum
  •      Often severe
  •      Feels like a squeezing inside

It can be differentiated from cardiac chest pain by

  • Oesophageal pain not provoked by exertion
  • Oesophageal pain can be made worse by lying down or leaning forward