Many people confuse the terms heartburn and indigestion, but they are not the same thing.
You can have heartburn and indigestion at the same time, and they may even feel similar, but the terms are not interchangeable.
Heartburn and indigestion are symptoms that occur after you eat foods that tend to cause these symptoms and eating too much, or too quickly. How long they last is variable.
What does indigestion feel like?
Indigestion – medical term; dyspepsia – is a collection of symptoms, and heartburn is just one of them. Heartburn is also its own distinct symptom related to stomach acid. Indigestion, on the other hand, isn’t related to stomach acid.
Indigestion is often connected to emotional health and state of mind; feeling stressed, nervous, or anxious seems to trigger bouts of indigestion, while feeling relaxed tends to prevent them.
The most common symptoms are:
- General discomfort in the stomach
- Feeling uncomfortably full during or after eating
- Stomach pain
- Frequent belching
- Feeling nauseated
- Having heartburn
- Feeling bloated
What does indigestion feel like while pregnant?
When you’re pregnant, you are more likely to have indigestion due to:
- Hormonal changes that your body is going through
- Your growing womb (uterus) pressing on your stomach
- The relaxing of the lower esophageal sphincter (ring of muscle) that acts like a gate between your stomach and your esophagus, allowing stomach acid to leak back up
You may be more likely to get indigestion in pregnancy if:
- You had indigestion before you were pregnant
- You have been pregnant before
- You are in the latter stages of pregnancy
In the case of indigestion in pregnancy it usually lasts until the birth.
How long indigestion lasts in other cases depends upon dealing with the causes.
Heartburn, and how long it lasts, is not necessarily a function of what you eat – or drink!
Chronic heartburn is actually a disease; its full name is Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease or GERD.
It is not that uncommon; some 20 million Americans live with this condition every day.
GERD is a condition in which acid from the stomach flows backward, or refluxes, into the esophagus. The esophagus is the long tube that connects your mouth to your stomach.
Inside your body, a “valve” at the lower end of the esophagus keeps acid in the stomach and out of the esophagus. Sometimes this valve relaxes too much and allows stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus.
The feeling is like a burning chest pain which begins behind the breastbone and moves upward to the neck and throat, frequently leaving an acid or bitter taste.
The burning pain can last as long as 2 hours and is usually worse after eating. The pain is caused by too much stomach acid coming into contact with the lining of the esophagus lining.
Is there a cure for heartburn?
There are many “over the counter” remedies which deal with the symptoms and eliminate the “burning” feeling.
To deal with the causes, you need to do the following:
- Avoid foods and beverages like chocolate, coffee, alcohol and soda as they can relax the “valve”.
- Avoid peppermint, greasy, spicy or tomato based foods.
- Stop smoking! Tobacco causes less saliva to form and saliva helps against stomach acid. Tobacco may also increase stomach acid.
- If you are overweight, go on a diet.
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day rather than two large ones.
- Do not eat 2-3 hours before sleeping.
- Elevate the head of your bed by 6-10 inches.
- Don’t wear tight-fitting clothing and belts.
A frequently asked question is: “How long does heartburn last after drinking alcohol”.
The answer is that, if alcohol is the only cause, then the symptoms will disappear in a few hours.
As for an answer to the question of how long heartburn lasts in other cases, it really depends on many factors and there is no simple answer.
However, there is medication available which eliminates the symptoms completely if taken every day. Talk to your doctor about it.
Heartburn and indigestion are not pleasant conditions, but how long they last is variable.
Do you suffer from either indigestion or heartburn – or both! How do you deal with it?
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