Difference Between Indigestion and Heartburn

When you eat too quickly, eat the wrong foods, eat at the wrong times, or sometimes when you simply eat, you can experience problems. One would assume that after hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, our bodies could handle whatever food we decide to throw at them – or into them, as it were.

This is not the case, however, and millions upon millions of people around the globe are plagued by bouts of heartburn and/or indigestion every single day, with many people suffering from these afflictions persistently. Because they’re minor afflictions, for the most part, there isn’t a whole lot of research done by sufferers. They may pop and antacid or lie down for a while to soothe symptoms, but few actually take the time to check into what exactly causes heartburn and/or indigestion or even if they’re the same thing or not.

To put it simply, they’re different ailments. Their roots are practically the same, born of ingestion or food or liquid, for the most part, but their symptoms can be quite different at times.

The Difference between Heartburn and Indigestion

Heartburn, like the name suggests, brings about a burning sensation. This affliction is commonly referred to as pyrosis or acid reflux and sometimes acid indigestion.

This ailment is associated with the regurgitation of gastric acids, which cause the pain and can cause long-term damage unless controlled and treated.

Symptoms associated with heartburn

  • Burning sensation below the breastbone or ribs
  • Chest pain after eating, lying down, heavy activity, etc
  • Burning in the throat, sometimes producing a sour or acidic-tasting fluid in the throat
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Food feeling as if it’s stuck in the chest and/or throat
  • Sore throat and/or hoarseness

Indigestion, technically called dyspepsia, is more like an upset stomach than an aching burn and is the result of impaired ingestion of foods.

Dyspepsia can trigger heartburn or can be frequent in patients suffering regular heartburn, but they are technically two different ailments. Indigestion is the result of food not digesting properly, which may cause acid to “reflux” into the esophagus, but can also cause other symptoms.

Symptoms associated with indigestion

  • A bloated, heavy feeling
  • Upset stomach
  • Belching and/or gas
  • Growling stomach, not from hunger
  • Burning in stomach or upper abdomen
  • Sharp or dull abdominal pain
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Indigestion can result from food not digesting properly and also from stomach ulcers, GERD, stomach infections, irritable bowel syndrome, pancreatitis, thyroid disease and stomach cancer in rare cases.

As stated previously, indigestion can bring about heartburn, and heartburn can also mimic indigestion, but the two ailments are separate and have a different list of symptoms.

Most over the counter and prescription treatments you find will act to eliminate symptoms of both, however. Most medicines will soothe stomach acids and thus ease the effects of both heartburn and indigestion.

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