Indigestion (Dyspepsia): Care Instructions

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Overview

Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint the cause of indigestion. (It is also called dyspepsia.) Most cases of an upset stomach with bloating, burning, burping, and nausea are minor and go away within several hours. Home treatment and over-the-counter medicine often are able to control symptoms.

If you get indigestion often, it may be a sign of a more serious medical problem. Be sure to follow up with your doctor, who may want to do tests to be sure of the cause of your indigestion.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medicine. For mild or occasional indigestion, antacids such as Mylanta, Maalox, or Tums may help. Be safe with medicines. Be careful when you take over-the-counter antacid medicines. Many of these medicines have aspirin in them. Read the label to make sure that you are not taking more than the recommended dose. Too much aspirin can be harmful.
  • Your doctor also may recommend over-the-counter acid reducers, such as famotidine (Pepcid AC), cimetidine (Tagamet HB ), or omeprazole (Prilosec). Read and follow all instructions on the label. If you use these medicines often, talk with your doctor.
  • Try changing your eating habits.
    • Try eating several small meals instead of two or three large meals.
    • After you eat, wait 2 to 3 hours before you lie down. Snacking close to bedtime might make your symptoms worse.
    • Avoid foods that make your symptoms worse. These may include chocolate, mint, alcohol, pepper, spicy foods, high-fat foods, or drinks with caffeine in them, such as tea, coffee, colas, or energy drinks.
  • Try to quit smoking, or cut back as much as you can. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • If you get dyspepsia at night, you can try raising the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by putting the frame on blocks or placing a foam wedge under the head of your mattress. (Adding extra pillows usually won't help.)
  • Try to avoid wearing tight clothing around your middle.
  • Lose weight if you need to. Losing just 5 to 10 pounds can help. Talk to your doctor if you need help with this.
  • Do not take anti-inflammatory medicines, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). These can irritate the stomach. If you need a pain medicine, try acetaminophen (Tylenol), which does not cause stomach upset.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lose consciousness).
  • You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • You pass maroon or very bloody stools.
  • You have severe belly pain.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • Your stools are black and look like tar or have streaks of blood.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You are vomiting.
  • You have new or worse symptoms of indigestion.
  • You have trouble or pain swallowing.
  • You are losing weight.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter W912 in the search box to learn more about "Indigestion (Dyspepsia): Care Instructions".

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.