Indigestion causes & characteristics

Most people will experience indigestion at some point in their lives. The term “indigestion” encompasses a range of digestive symptoms and is a common problem that affects many people, usually after eating or drinking. It is caused by acid breaking down the protective lining of the stomach wall, which leads to irritation and soreness.



Pain may be felt in the chest or top of the stomach. However many people complain of feeling 'bloated' or uncomfortably full and gaseous - needing to burp, belch or pass wind a lot. You may also experience nausea or vomiting and a loss of appetite.


Heartburn and indigestion can tend to have similar triggers.


The Way You Eat
  • Eating large meals can cause your stomach to produce too much acid. Physically 'overfilling' the stomach can create pressure and cause acid to escape.
  • Eating irregularly or too quickly can cause limited time for regulation of acid levels in the stomach.
  • Eating on the run or just before bedtime can make it easier for acid to escape back up into the oesophagus (food pipe).

The Types of Food You Eat
  • Fatty foods tend to stay in your stomach for longer because fats are slower to digest.
  • Foods such as chocolate and mint may have a relaxant effect on the sphincter (ring of muscle) at the entrance to the stomach enabling acid to escape back up.
  • Spicy foods, onions and tomato products may increase incidence of heartburn.

The Types of Drinks You Drink
  • Extremely hot drinks and citrus juices may also be triggers.
  • Very hot drinks and citrus juices may also be triggers.

  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy.
  • The baby physically putting pressure on the woman's digestive tract.
  • Find out more.

Other known triggers
  • Stress.
  • Some medicines, such as those for heart problems, asthma and high blood pressure.
  • Being overweight.
  • Wearing tight clothes which can put pressure on your stomach.
  • Smoking can encourage acid production and cause the sphincter to relax.
Many people can identify the triggers for their symptoms and take action accordingly, but if you are suffering regularly, or have any concerns, consult your GP.

Did you know?

  • There is an increasing trend of heartburn incidence in Asia 1
  • Ethnic Chinese heartburn sufferers have 5.8 times higher chances of experiencing other stomach discomfort*2. 
    *Indicates acid feeling in the stomach. 
    1. Jung HK. J Neurogastroenterol Motil, 2011; 17:14-17. 
    2. Wong WM, et al. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003; 18: 595-604.