What causes indigestion?

Indigestion is usually related to eating. When you eat, your stomach produces acid. The acid can sometimes irritate your stomach lining, the top part of the bowel, or the oesophagus.

This irritation can be painful and cause a burning sensation, particularly if the lining of your digestive system is overly sensitive to acid.

Your stomach can also stretch after eating a big meal, causing acid reflux , where the acid moves up into youroesophagus.

Indigestion can also be triggered or made worseby a number of other factors:


Some medicines, such as nitratestaken to widen blood vessels relax the ring of muscle between the oesophagus and stomach. This allows acid to leak back up.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) , such as aspirin and ibuprofen,can also affect your digestive tract and causeindigestion.

Don't take NSAIDs if you have stomach problems, such as astomach ulcer, or you've had problems in the past. Children under 16 shouldn't take aspirin.


If you're overweight or obese , you're more likely to getindigestion. This isbecause increased pressure inside your stomach, particularly after a large meal, can cause acid reflux.


Indigestion in pregnancy is partly caused by hormonal changes, and by the growing womb pressing on your stomachin the later stages of pregnancy.

As many as 8 out of 10 women experience indigestion at some point during their pregnancy.

Smoking and alcohol

The chemicals inhaled in cigarette smoke may contribute to indigestion. They can cause the muscle between the oesophagus and stomach to relax, causing acid reflux.

Drinking excess amounts of alcohol can also increase your risk of getting indigestion. Alcohol causes your stomach to produce more acid than normal, which can irritate your stomach lining.

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Hiatus hernia

A hernia occurs when an internal part of the body pushes through a weakness in the surrounding muscle or tissue wall.

A hiatus hernia is where part of the stomach pushes up into the diaphragm, the sheet of muscle under your lungs.This cancause acid reflux.

Helicobacter pylori(H. pylori) infection

Helicobacter pylori infections are common. They sometimes lead to stomach ulcers, although in most casesthey don't cause any symptoms at all.

Some people may get episodes of indigestion after having an H. pylori infection. In these cases, treating the infection with antibiotics will help.

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a common condition and one of the main causes of recurring indigestion.

It occurs when the muscle between the oesophagus and stomach fails to prevent stomach acid rising into the oesophagus.

A small amount of acid reflux is normal and rarely causes problems. But in GORD a large amount of reflux causes the sensitive lining of your oesophagus to become inflamed.

This is causedby repeated irritation from stomach acid, and can cause heartburn, the sensation of bringing fluid back up, and painful swallowing.


A stomach ulcer is an open sore that develops on the inside lining of your stomach (gastric ulcer) or small intestine (duodenal ulcer). Indigestion may be a symptom if you have a stomach ulcer.

Stomachulcers formwhen stomach acid damages the lining in your stomach or duodenum wall. In most cases the lining is damaged as a result of an H. pylori infection.

Stomach cancer

In rare cases, recurring bouts of indigestion can be one of the symptoms of stomach cancer .

Cancerous cells in the stomach break down the protective lining, allowing acid to come into contact with the stomach wall.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dez 2018