The expression indigestion is often loosely referred to if a person suffers from flatulence, excess gas, or stomach bloating. There is however a small difference between gas and indigestion. The two conditions can frequently be linked to acid reflux.

Acid reflux is the result of the gastric juices producing acids which are transferred upwards from the stomach to the esophagus (or the passage by which food is transferred from the mouth to the stomach).

Gas is caused primarily by swallowing air, (aerophagia).This can be done by eating or drinking too quickly, by continually chewing gum, or smoking excessively. Burping and belching are most commonly caused by swallowing air.

Another cause of gas is eating foods which are difficult to digest. Undigested food ends up in the large intestine (colon), where bacteria break down the food into gases, which are usually passed out via the rectum.

You may think that indigestion is a natural result of the acid reflux process, but realistically it may be part of the overall gas problem being suffered, and paradoxically although the gas indigestion problem may feel like acid reflux, it is more likely the cause of the acid reflux.

Some people think that too much stomach acid is being produced, and is the direct cause of their stomach upset. This is not always the case, since low stomach acid slows down the food digestion process. The food lodges in the stomach, it is then attacked by stomach bacteria producing excess gas, so it becomes a vicious circle.

The most common symptoms of gas are flatulence, abdominal bloating and pain, usually accompanied by repeated belching. A symptom of indigestion is a slight burning sensation in the upper stomach and esophagus.

A little sodium bicarbonate will quickly relieve indigestion symptoms, and as indigestion and gas production are linked, this form of mild treatment will normally ease the production of the excess gases.

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