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What is an upset stomach?

An upset stomach or indigestion is a symptom indicating an underlying gastrointestinal disorder. Inflammation in the intestines or the stomach (gastroenteritis) due to any reason can lead to indigestion. It results from certain medications, virus, being exposed to unfamiliar bacteria during a journey or due to contaminated food. Almost everyone has experienced indigestion at least once in his or her lifetime.

What are its main associated signs and symptoms?

The main signs and symptoms associated with an upset stomach are:

What are the main causes?

The main causes of an upset stomach are:

  • Swallowing too much air while eating that causes bloating, which can lead to indigestion
  • Infection due to contaminated food or water e.g., typhoid, cholera, etc.
  • Ulcers in the digestive tract and intestines
  • Increased consumption of caffeinated beverages and alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Ingesting contaminated food
  • Aspirin – Aspirin irritates the stomach lining in some people

How is it diagnosed and treated?

A doctor will go through the patient’s medical history to rule out any underlying causes like ulcers. The doctor may recommend an abdominal X-ray or use an endoscope (a tube-like instrument fitted with a light and a camera) to get a closer look into the stomach and identify the cause of indigestion. A gastroscopy will be recommended if needed.

The treatment regimen for an upset stomach depends on the underlying cause. Usually, symptoms of an upset stomach subside within a few hours without using any medications. A diet of clear fluids is the most recommended diet to treat an upset stomach.

Avoiding the following habits can provide relief to an upset stomach:

  • Eating spicy food
  • Eating late dinners
  • Inactivity after meals can slow down metabolism
  • Drinking fluids during the meal

The doctor may give prescription medications like antibiotics, antacids, medications to control nausea and vomiting and anti-diarrhoeal medications if the upset stomach is affecting stomach functioning.

  1. Medicines for Upset Stomach
  2. Doctors for Upset Stomach
Dr. Abhay Singh

Dr. Abhay Singh

Gastroenterology
1 Years of Experience

Dr. Suraj Bhagat

Dr. Suraj Bhagat

Gastroenterology
23 Years of Experience

Dr. Smruti Ranjan Mishra

Dr. Smruti Ranjan Mishra

Gastroenterology
23 Years of Experience

Dr. Sankar Narayanan

Dr. Sankar Narayanan

Gastroenterology
10 Years of Experience

References

  1. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System [Internet]: University Health Services; Upset stomach
  2. Virginia State University[Internet]; Upset Stomach.
  3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Indigestion.
  4. Cleveland Clinic. [Internet]. Cleveland, Ohio. Upset Stomach (Indigestion): Care and Treatment.
  5. Bolia R. Approach to "Upset Stomach". Indian J Pediatr. 2017 Dec;84(12):915-921. PMID: 28687951

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