Indigestion overview

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Patient Information


Historical Perspective



Risk Factors


Differentiating Indigestion from other Conditions

Natural History, Complications and Prognosis


History and Symptoms

Physical Examination

Laboratory Findings

Abdominal X Ray



Echocardiography or Ultrasound

Other Imaging Findings

Other Diagnostic Studies


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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Raviteja Guddeti, M.B.B.S. [2]


Indigestion is a term used to describe a feeling of fullness or discomfort during or after a meal. It can be accompanied by burning or pain in the upper stomach. It is a condition that is frequently caused by eating too fast, especially by eating high-fat foods quickly. There are many possible causes of indigestion, of which some are related to lifestyle.

Historical Perspective

Indigestion is an old english word meaning lack of digestion. Dyspepsia like symptoms have been recognized since the birth of medicine, however, the underlying pathogenesis of dyspepsia only began to be appreciated when Baillie in 1799 first described the anatomy and symptoms of gastric ulcer disease. The development of barium x-ray radiology, by Cannon in 1897, led to the clinical recognition of peptic ulcer disease and its relationship with its symptoms. Walter Alvarez at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN was the first to apply the term functional dyspepsia in 1916 to describe patients with ulcer-like symptoms and a normal X-ray.


History and Symptoms

Discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen, early fullness while eating, bloating, sense of fullness after eating are the usual symptoms expressed by the patients. Sometimes indigestion is accompanied by heartburn which is a separate condition.

Laboratory Findings

People without risk factors for serious causes of dyspepsia usually do not need investigation beyond an office based clinical examination.

Other Diagnostic Studies

People over the age 55 years and those with alarm features are usually investigated by esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). People under the age of 55 years with no alarm features do not need EGD but are considered for investigation for peptic ulcer disease caused by Helicobacter pylori infection.



Avoiding foods and situations that seem to cause it may help. Indigestion can be a sign of a more serious problem. Seeing a health care provider if it lasts for more than two weeks and involves severe pain or other symptoms is very important.


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