Your Care Instructions
Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint the cause of indigestion. (It is also called dyspepsia or heartburn.) 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. But if you take medicine to relieve your indigestion without making diet and lifestyle changes, your symptoms are likely to return again and again.
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 Gaviscon, 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 Pepcid AC (famotidine), Tagamet HB (cimetidine), or Prilosec (omeprazole). Read and follow all instructions on the label. If you use these medicines often, talk with your doctor.
- Change your eating habits.
- It's best to eat several small meals instead of two or three large meals.
- After you eat, wait 2 to 3 hours before you lie down.
- 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. If your symptoms are worse after you eat a certain food, you may want to stop eating it to see if your symptoms get better.
- Do not smoke or chew tobacco. Smoking can make GERD worse. 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 have GERD symptoms at night, raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches. You can do this by putting the frame on blocks or placing a foam wedge under the head of your mattress. (Adding extra pillows does not work.)
- Do not wear tight clothing around your middle.
- Lose weight if you need to. Losing just 5 to 10 pounds can help.
- 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 your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have new or worse belly pain.
- You are vomiting.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- 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?
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