What are the most common causes of indigestion and belching?

While the symptoms of indigestion and belching can be mild, some of the underlying causes can be very serious. The most common causes are gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastritis, and stomach ulcers. GERD occurs when food travels back up the esophagus instead of staying in the stomach. Gastritis and stomach ulcers are similar in that they are both disorders of the stomach. Inflammation and irritation of the stomach lining is called gastritis, while stomach ulcers are sores on the lining.

GERD patients may think they are experiencing acid reflux because they both describe the upset of stomach contents being released into the esophagus. Food is not the only thing that travels down the esophagus, but also bile in some cases. Asthma, obesity, and smoking are just a few of the risk factors associated with GERD. GERD symptoms, in addition to indigestion and belching, include vomiting blood, difficulty swallowing, and chest pain. Treatment for GERD ranges from over-the-counter medications to surgery.

Gastritis occurs when the stomach lining becomes swollen or irritated. Inflammation results from bacterial overgrowth and infection. People can identify possible gastritis from black stools, bleeding from the rectum, and vomiting along with indigestion and belching. In most cases, gastritis can be treated quite easily, but in rare cases it can lead to stomach cancer. Dietary intervention, such as avoiding spicy foods and antacids, is often used to treat gastritis.

Stomach ulcers differ from gastritis in that painful sores develop in the lining of the stomach. Some medications can cause ulcers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Often the cause is bacterial infection of a particular strain known as Helicobacter pylori . People with stomach ulcers experience persistent pain, but also problems with indigestion and belching. Depending on the severity of the pain, stomach ulcers may be treated with antacids or emergency medical assistance may be needed.

Indigestion and burping are often taken for granted when they should be a cause for concern. There are often other symptoms that can accelerate the problem from a mild condition to one that should be of serious concern. Severe and chronic pain is an example of a symptom that should be reported to a medical professional. He or she can administer the appropriate tests to diagnose which of these conditions, if any, is the underlying cause. Doctors and other health professionals often suggest appropriate treatments that target the specific cause rather than the general recommendation to take an antacid.

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