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Digestive health centre

Self-help advice

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Indigestion is a common symptom of peptic ulcers. If you have a peptic ulcer, you may often experience pain in your upper abdomen or lower chest, which may even wake you up at night. It's also possible to have frequent bouts of indigestion after your peptic ulcer has been treated and has healed.

The following advice may help to ease your indigestion:

Stop smoking

If you have a peptic ulcer, smoking can impair the healing process.

The chemicals that you inhale when smoking may also contribute to your indigestion. These chemicals can cause the muscles that separate your oesophagus (gullet) from your stomach to relax, allowing stomach acid to leak back up into your gullet more easily (acid reflux).

As well as helping to cause indigestion, smoking increases your risk of developing lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis (infection of the main airways of the lungs), emphysema (damage of the small airways of the lungs), heart disease and stroke.

Diet and alcohol

You should avoid any food and drink that makes your indigestion symptoms worse. For example, this may mean eating less rich, spicy and fatty foods, and cutting down on drinks that contain caffeine, such as tea, coffee and cola. You should also avoid drinking alcohol if it is aggravating your indigestion symptoms and making them worse.

Medical Review: September 24, 2009

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