Symptoms and Causes of Indigestion

What are the symptoms of indigestion?

When you have indigestion, you may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • pain, a burning feeling, or discomfort in your upper abdomen
  • feeling full too soon while eating a meal
  • feeling uncomfortably full after eating a meal
  • bloating
  • burping

Other symptoms may include

  • burping up food or liquid
  • loud growling or gurgling in your stomach
  • nausea
  • gas

Sometimes when you have indigestion, you may also have heartburn. However, heartburn and indigestion are two separate conditions.

Photo of a person holding two hands against the stomach.
When you have indigestion, you may have pain, a burning feeling, or discomfort in your upper abdomen.

Seek care right away

If you have indigestion and any of the following symptoms, you may have a more serious condition and should see a doctor right away:

  • black, tarlike stools
  • bloody vomit
  • difficulty swallowing or painful swallowing
  • frequent vomiting
  • losing weight without trying
  • pain in your chest, jaw, neck, or arm
  • severe and constant pain in your abdomen
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • yellowing of your eyes or skin

You should also see a doctor if your indigestion lasts longer than 2 weeks.

What causes indigestion?

Some of the causes of indigestion include

  • drinking
    • too many alcoholic beverages
    • too much coffee or too many drinks containing caffeine
    • too many carbonated, or fizzy, drinks
  • eating
    • too fast or too much during a meal
    • spicy, fatty, or greasy foods
    • foods that contain a lot of acid, such as tomatoes, tomato products, and oranges
  • feeling stressed
  • smoking

Some medicines can cause indigestion, such as

Health problems and digestive tract diseases and conditions can cause indigestion, including

Researchers do not know what causes functional dyspepsia. Some research3 suggests that the following factors may play a role in functional dyspepsia:

  • eating
  • gastroparesis
  • problems in the first part of your small intestine, including inflammation and being overly sensitive to stomach acids
  • infection by microorganisms such as H. pylori, Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), Campylobacter, giardia, or norovirus
  • psychological problems, especially anxiety
  • genes—a trait passed from parent to child

References

November 2016
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.