ZocdocAnswersCan small amounts of food cause indigestion?

Question

Can small amounts of food cause indigestion?

Can indigestion be caused even by small amounts of food? In the past, I'd always fought indigestion by just having small, frequent meals. Now, unfortunately, it seems like any food makes me dyspeptic. Or does this mean that I have another problem besides indigestion?

Answer

Symptoms such as "indigestion" or "heartburn" are common problems attributed to the upper portions of the gastrointestinal tract. Indigestion, also referred to as "upset stomach" or dyspepsia, is the sensation of pain or fullness in the upper abdomen. Heartburn results from a process called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which acid produced in the stomach refluxes into the lower portion of the esophagus and causes irritation of its mucosal lining. Often, indigestion is a result of GERD as well. If GERD is the underlying cause, then small amounts of food may have little impact on reducing your symptoms. Instead, you may want to undergo trials of lifestyle modifications (such as elevating the head of the bed or avoiding late-night snacks) or antacid treatments. Indigestion may also result from inflammation of the stomach, as well as peptic ulcer disease and less commonly, stomach cancer. Again, food intake may due little to alter the course of symptoms if these are the underlying causes of your dyspepsia. The stomach may be inflamed or ulcerated due to medications (classic offenders include anti-inflammatory drugs) or infection (e.g. Helicobacter pylori). Because it is difficult to diagnose the cause of dyspepsia, it is advisable to talk to your primary care physician and consult a gastroenterologist, who may want to visualize the inside of your esophagus and stomach through an endoscopic procedure. This procedure involves inserting a tube with a camera on its end through the mouth and into the first part of the small intestine.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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