Home remedies such as over-the-counter medications, herbs and light activity can help to relieve indigestion and bloating. Although uncomfortable, these symptoms – an upset stomach and gassiness -- are relatively minor and do not include heartburn, acid reflux or expansion of the abdomen. Home remedies can provide short-term relief but changing your lifestyle may help to prevent future attacks. If you continue to have similar attacks, ask your doctor for advice as you may need medical treatment.
While your first instinct might be to curl up in bed until you feel better, lying down may actually increase your symptoms. Sitting up straight or walking around will improve your digestion and help to pass the gas that is making you feel bloated. Avoid strenuous exercise or bending over, as these activities can make the indigestion worse.
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Over-the-counter medications such as Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate suspension) can provide short-term relief of indigestion and bloating. Do not use Pepto-Bismol, though, if you are also using garlic, ginger, ginseng or gingko because this combination can prevent your blood from clotting properly. You can try taking an antacid for the indigestion 1 hour after meals and before bedtime but the effects will only last for a short time. Combination medications such as Mylanta Gas that contain simethicone and an antacid can relieve both the indigestion and the gas symptoms. Avoid taking painkillers such as aspirin or ibuprofen as these medications can increase the risk of bleeding in the stomach.
Many people report that herbal remedies help to relieve indigestion and bloating. Tea made of fresh chamomile, peppermint or lemon balm, for example, help to relax digestive tract muscles and assist with passing gas. The authors of an article published in the September 19, 2002 issue of “Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics,” however, point out that few scientific studies support claims of the success of herbal remedies. Caraway and peppermint seem to be effective, they concluded, but further study of herbal remedies is needed. If you decide to try an herbal remedy, be sure to tell your doctor as some herbs may interfere with the way prescription medications work.
It is often difficult to determine the cause of indigestion and bloating but making some changes in your lifestyle may help prevent future attacks. Eating smaller, more frequent meals and chewing more slowly can help reduce the air that gets into the stomach. Reducing the fat in your diet or eliminating foods that trigger your symptoms may also help. Losing weight and stopping habits such as smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages are beneficial to your general health and may also relieve unpleasant digestive symptoms.
Indigestion and gas-related symptoms are not necessarily caused by the digestive system. In fact, a woman having heart attack may have atypical symptoms such as indigestion, jaw pain or pain between the shoulders. The only way to find out if you are having a heart attack is to seek immediate medical attention. If you have indigestion and bloating along with difficulty swallowing, weight loss, vomiting or bleeding from the rectum or vagina, these are warning signs of potentially serious and life-threatening conditions, including ulcers or cancer.
- Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics: Herbal Medicinal Products for Non-ulcer Dyspepsia
- Gastrointestinal Health, 3rd ed.; Steven R. Peikin, M.D.
- Journal of Medical Toxicology: Baking Soda Can Settle the Stomach but Upset the Heart: Case Files of the Medical Toxicology Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco
- Williams' Essentials of Nutrition and Diet Therapy, Revised; Eleanor Schlenker and Sara Long Roth
- Brigham and Women's Hospital: Gas: Beat the Bloat
- ISRN Obstetrics and Gynecology: Functional Abdominal Bloating with Distention