7 Ways to Relieve Indigestion

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Sarah Lewis, PharmD on December 3, 2020
  • Young African American woman with indigestion using antacid tabletin glass of water
    Antacids and Other Medicines for Indigestion Relief
    Most everyone has dealt with an upset stomach and the bloating, burping, gas or nausea that comes along with it. Indigestion treatment to relieve this discomfort depends on the cause. If you get occasional indigestion, it’s most likely due to some kind of lifestyle factor, such as overeating. There are some simple solutions if this is the case. However, chronic indigestion is often a symptom of an underlying condition. When indigestion lasts for more than two weeks, the first step is seeing your doctor. A visit may uncover the root of the problem and treating it may ease indigestion.
  • Close-up of cola being poured into clear glass
    1. Lifestyle Changes
    Your lifestyle can play a role in developing indigestion, so it can also help resolve or avoid it. Be aware of how you eat—take smaller portions and slow down. Pay attention to what you eat—limit fatty, greasy or spicy foods. You may also need to reduce your intake of alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages. Avoid eating two hours before bedtime. Evaluate your level of stress, anxiety or depression as well. These emotional issues can contribute to an upset stomach. If you smoke, it’s time to quit. And if you take medicines or supplements, find out if you need to take them with food to avoid stomach problems.
  • Older Caucasian man at pharmacy holding hand over chest
    2. Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicines
    For quick relief of occasional indigestion, your drugstore shelves may hold the answer. Antacids and anti-gas medicines can help you feel better when your stomach is upset. Antacids do just what their name implies—they neutralize stomach acid to relieve heartburn. Calcium carbonate (Rolaids, Tums, others) is a popular choice, but there are others. You can also find OTC acid blockers for longer relief. Anti-gas medicines, such as simethicone (Gas-X, Mylicon, others), ease gas, bloating, and painful pressure and fullness. If you need OTC medicines for more than two weeks, see your doctor.
  • Male gay couple baking cupcakes with daughter in kitchen
    3. Lactase
    Lactose intolerance is a very common cause of indigestion. Your doctor can diagnose the problem if you get indigestion with dairy products, which contain lactose. If you have it, there are solutions. You can avoid lactose-containing foods, but that will cut out an important source of calcium and other nutrients. Fortunately, there are lactose-free and reduced lactose dairy options. Your doctor may also recommend using lactase tablets or drops. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose. People with lactose intolerance don’t have enough of it. Taking it with dairy can help avoid problems.
  • Young Hispanic man looking at shelf of pharmacy
    4. Acid Blockers
    Acid blockers treat two common causes of indigestion—GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and PUD (peptic ulcer disease). There are two types of acid blockers—PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) and H2 blockers. Both are available in OTC and prescription strengths. Examples include cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), lansoprazole (Prevacid 24), and omeprazole (Prilosec OTC). Like antacids, you should see your doctor if you need OTC acid blockers for more than two weeks. Your doctor may recommend prescription acid blockers to treat GERD or PUD.
  • Middle age female African American doctor giving prescription to older male Caucasian patient
    5. Antibiotics
    Sometimes, the condition causing indigestion is related to a bacterial infection with Helicobacter pylori. This is most often the case with PUD. It can be true with chronic gastritis—or inflammation of the stomach lining—as well. Antibiotics are necessary to wipe out the infection. Usually, doctors prescribe at least two different antibiotics, along with an acid blocker. This is triple therapy. Doctors may also recommend quadruple therapy, adding bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol).
  • Close-up of group of fiber supplement pills
    6. Laxatives, Fiber, and IBS Medicines
    Constipation and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can cause indigestion. To manage them, your doctor may recommend fiber supplements to normalize your bowel movements. If this doesn’t work, laxatives may be the next step. Long-term laxative use can cause problems, so your doctor will want to uncover the cause of constipation. If it’s IBS, there are several prescription medicines to treat the condition. Examples include alosetron (Lotronex), linaclotide (Linzess), and lubiprostone (Amitiza).
  • African American male doctor giving prescription bottle to older Caucasian male patient
    7. Prokinetics
    Less commonly, indigestion can be the result when food moves too slowly out of your stomach and into the small intestine. This is delayed gastric emptying, or gastroparesis. Diabetes is a common cause of the condition, but many times doctors can’t find an exact cause. Regardless, treating the gastroparesis often relieves indigestion and other symptoms. Doctors use prokinetic drugs to speed up the movement of food out of the stomach and into the small intestine. Metoclopramide (Reglan) is an example.
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About The Author

Sarah Lewis is a pharmacist and a medical writer with over 25 years of experience in various areas of pharmacy practice. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree from West Virginia University and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She completed Pharmacy Practice Residency training at the University of Pittsburgh/VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. 
  1. Acid Reflux (GER and GERD) in Adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-adults
  2. Gastroparesis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gastroparesis
  3. Indigestion. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/indigestion/symptoms-causes/syc-20352211
  4. Indigestion (Dyspepsia). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/indigestion-dyspepsia/definition-facts
  5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016
  6. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome
  7. Lactose Intolerance. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/lactose-intolerance
  8. Ulcers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/toolstemplates/entertainmented/tips/Ulcers.html














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Last Review Date: 2020 Dec 3
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