Brandon was having a great day. He got an "A" on his math test, the girl he likes
had said "hi" to him, and for lunch he had an awesome steak sandwich with cheese,
peppers, and lots of onions.
But later that afternoon he felt a burning sensation in the back of his throat.
His chest and stomach started to hurt, too. Brandon had a mean case of ... indigestion!
What Is Indigestion?
Indigestion (say: in-dih-JES-chun) is just another name for an upset stomach. It's
also called dyspepsia (say: dis-PEP-shuh).
Indigestion usually happens when people eat too much, too fast, or foods that don't
"agree" with them. It's fair to say that big cheesesteak sandwich didn't agree with
Brandon had a little heartburn with his indigestion. It doesn't mean there was
anything wrong with his heart.
Heartburn is a burning feeling that travels from a person's chest up to the neck and
throat. It's caused by stomach acid, which isn't a problem unless it gets out of your
With heartburn, stomach acid splashes up and irritates the esophagus (say: ih-SAH-fuh-gus),
the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. This is called esophagealreflux (say: ih-sah-fuh-JEE-ul REE-fluks) and can leave
a sour or bitter taste in the person's mouth.
Indigestion and heartburn are common problems for both kids and grownups. That's
why you see all those commercials for heartburn and indigestion medicines on TV! But
don't take any medicine for indigestion unless your parents or doctor says it's OK.
Most of the ones that are advertised on TV are meant for adults, not kids.
Stress, not enough sleep, smoking, or drinking alcohol also can make indigestion
Digestive problems, such as ulcers, can cause the symptoms
of indigestion and heartburn, too. But they're not common in kids.
Do I Have It?
In addition to heartburn, if you have indigestion, you'll probably have one or
more of the following symptoms:
pain or burning in your upper belly — usually in the middle
nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
bloating (that too-full feeling where your stomach sticks out)
burping that you have a hard time controlling
When to Go to the Doctor
Usually, indigestion only happens once in a while, like after eating one too many
But you'll want to see the doctor if you get indigestion even when you're eating
healthy foods, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
You may need to be examined, have stomach X-rays
or other tests to make sure your indigestion is not the sign of another problem in
your digestive tract. Depending on what the doctor finds, you might need to make changes
in your diet or take medicine.
Be sure to tell your parent right way if you:
throw up (or vomit), especially
if you ever see blood in your throw up
think you're losing weight
have no appetite for more than a day
ever feel short of breath
sweat for no reason
have belly pain that won't go away or feels really bad
have poop (bowel movements) that look black or sticky or you see blood in the
toilet or on the toilet paper after you wipe
Some people can eat anything and they never get upset stomachs. But other people
are more sensitive to food and they might find certain ones just don't agree with
them. If you discover one of these foods, it's best not to eat a lot of them or skip
them entirely. (For Brandon, the problem was the onions on his cheesesteak!)
In addition to avoiding problem foods, it's a good idea to eat several smaller
meals instead of a couple of really big ones. Here are some other tips to prevent
As much as possible, avoid fatty, greasy foods, like fries and burgers.