stomach ache
Digestive Health

Managing Bad Digestion

The symptoms of indigestion are familiar to most of us: They can range from a vaguely upset stomach to bloating to throwing up. Assuming there’s no other cause for your upper abdominal pain or discomfort, experts at Harvard Medical School say, your doctor would call this “bad digestion” or dyspepsia.”

According to the Harvard experts, about 25 percent of Americans are affected by functional dyspepsia, which usually occurs during or after a meal. Men and women are equally affected.

Unfortunately, the cause of functional dyspepsia isn’t known, and there’s no guaranteed cure. But the Harvard experts say there are some things you can do to get relief. Here’s their advice:

Avoid foods that cause symptoms.

Eat small portions. Don’t eat too much. A good solution is smaller, more frequent meals. Chew your food thoroughly.

What to avoid: Activities that involve swallowing excess air, including smoking, eating too fast, chewing gum and drinking carbonated drinks.

Reduce stress. The Harvard experts recommend relaxation therapies or exercise. But check with your doctor first to see how much exercise you should be doing, and don’t exercise immediately after eating.

Make sure you sleep enough.

Don’t lie down within two hours of eating.

Manage your weight.

For more on diagnosing and treating indigestion, buy The Sensitive Gut, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.