What is Chronic Indigestion?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 02 January 2020
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Chronic indigestion is a condition that is diagnosed when people have indigestion for at least a week out of every month, for several months consecutively. It has a variety of causes, many of them curable by making changes in behavior and eating habits. There are illness-based causes of this condition also, and this is why it makes sense to seek physician assistance if a person is experiencing chronic forms of indigestion. Doctors can look at symptoms and determine if there is a potential underlying illness or they can help patients make the changes needed to help increase symptom-free days.

There are many chronic indigestion symptoms. Some people feel automatically full when they start eating. Others note a significant increase in gas and bloating, especially after meals. Heartburn in the lower chest can be one symptom of this condition, and other people will vomit or feel nauseous after eating. The abdominal area often feels uncomfortable and painful, and it may be swollen.

People may have several of these symptoms of chronic indigestion, or one or two at most. It’s important to remember the diagnosis criteria: these symptoms must occur at least seven days out of the month. A single bout of indigestion lasting for a day or two isn’t chronic, but is instead typically classed as acute.


When people consult a doctor about this condition, the doctor may ask questions about eating habits or stress level when each episode occurs. In most cases, either stress and/or poor eating results in chronic indigestion. The principal offending foods and drinks include foods that are heavily spiced or high in fat; coffee, tea, or drinks that are carbonated, or alcoholic. Many people are able to arrest frequent bouts of indigestion simply through dietary changes.

Stress is also indicated in creating this condition, and those under high stress might be taught anxiety-reduction techniques by a psychotherapist or other type of therapist.

It can take a little time for treatment to work and doctors may recommend using antacids or acid-blogging drugs to help eliminate some symptoms right away. No matter the cause, changes in diet and reducing stress are important since these exacerbate symptoms. Medication helps reduce incidence of the condition, but it is better to try to avoid incidence through lifestyle changes.

Medicine and lifestyle changes may be inadequate if the condition is caused by something else. Other potential causes of chronic indigestion include use of certain drugs like aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), ulcers, gastrointestinal reflux disease, bowel problems like chronic diarrhea, some forms of heart disease, diabetes, or stomach cancer. When people don’t respond to lifestyle changes, doctors may investigate for other illnesses through a variety of scopes, scans, and examinations. Should one of these conditions be found, treatment of it could help alleviate chronic indigestion symptoms.


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