What can cause indigestion?

November 12, 2012

What can cause indigestion?

Indigestion is a condition that affects everyone at some point. There are many different factors that cause indigestion, some more serious than others, of which everyone should be aware. The primary factor that can cause indigestion is stomach acid building up and irritating the lining of the oesophagus, stomach or duodenum. In the majority of cases, it is nothing to worry about and is simply due to stomach acid that has travelled back into the oesophagus. However, in some cases what causes indigestion is in fact an underlying medical condition, some of which can be serious and require immediate treatment.


Certain medications cause indigestion as a side effect. Nitrates for example are taken to widen blood vessels and cause the lower oesophageal sphincter allowing stomach acid to travel back inside. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have also been known to cause indigestion. Aspirin, ibuprofen or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug if you are suffering from stomach problems such as ulcers or have suffered from them in the past.


Obesity can also cause indigestion through the added pressure to the stomach. After a large meal the oesophageal sphincter can be forced open, again causing stomach acid to leak backwards.

Hiatus hernia

If there is a weakness in the tissue wall or muscle surrounding an organ, it is possible for the organ to push through in a condition known as a hernia. A hiatus hernia refers to a condition when part of the stomach is pushed up into the diaphragm. This prevents the oesophageal sphincter from properly closing and allows acid to travel back.

Helicobacter pylori infection

This infection, known in short as H pylori, will cause indigestion in recurring bouts. It is common for the infection not to present any symptoms and there are many cases of people being infected without realising it. However, in more severe cases the infection can cause damage to the lining of the stomach leading to an increase in acid.

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)

This condition is not only common but also one of the main things that cause indigestion. It is caused by acid reflux travelling back and up into the oesophagus. When this happens repeatedly the lining of the oesophagus becomes irritated and damaged.

Peptic ulcers

An open sore that grows on the inside of the stomach lining or the lining of the small intestine is known as a peptic ulcer. Indigestion is a common symptom of this condition. Ulcers form in the stomach when the lining has been damaged through stomach acid.

Stomach cancer

Stomach cancer also causes indigestion, although the cases of this are rare. Cancer cells can break down the stomach lining causing acid to come into direct contact with the wall of the stomach. It is estimated that around 7,700 individuals in the UK are diagnosed with stomach cancer every year.

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