Indigestion, or dyspepsia is often little more than discomfort brought on by acid reflux or IBS. However, there can be other causes of these aches and pains in the region of your tummy, and some of them are not to be dismissed lightly. Expert Dr Michael Mendall explains:
5 other conditions that can cause feelings of indigestion:
Pain from the gall bladder, pancreas, and kidney can all cause the sensation of dyspepsia. Worryingly, so can certain types of cancer.
- Gallbladder – pain starts suddenly and lasts for a few hours. It may be felt it in the back as well. Pain in the gallbladder can be so severe that you feel you need to go to hospital – this could be gallstones.
- Pancreas – you might typically feel pain in that area, or the back.
- Kidney stones – pain occurs on one side of the body. Very severe.
- The pain from all types of intra-abdominal cancer can be mistaken for indigestion, but the pain gets worse and worse over time. “Indigestion” + weight loss – indicates a serious problem.
- Chest pain
Can indigestion cause chest pain?
Chest pain can be a symptom of indigestion, but it’s important if you’re of a certain age not to confuse it with pain from the heart. In general, the pain of dyspepsia will come after eating; heart pain will come after exercise, particularly if you’re a man over 40. Pain from the heart is a crushing heavy pain, radiating down the arm. It can be similar if the gut goes into spasm.
Indigestion or out-digestion?
A lot of people think that indigestion is related to the stomach, gullet or bowel, but in fact, in older people, other abdominal problems can manifest, including different sorts of intra-abdominal cancer. A lot of people referred with indigestion, suspected of having cancer found that they were just as likely to have cancer outside the digestive tract, e.g. the pancreas, kidney, etc. as inside.
If you experience indigestion for the first time after the age of 45-50, it lasts more than a couple of weeks, gets worse and worse, and if you develop a problem swallowing, you could have a serious health problem. You should see your doctor or a specialist.