Indigestion is a general term for pain or discomfort felt in the stomach and under the ribs.
Heartburn is when acid moves up from the stomach into the gullet (oesophagus) and causes a burning pain behind your breastbone.
Indigestion and heartburn can occur together or on their own.
It’s a common problem that affects most people at some point. In most cases it’s mild and only occurs occasionally.
Some simple self-care techniques are:
For short-term relief, your pharmacist can recommend antacid medicines to neutralise stomach acid, or alginates to protect your food pipe (oesophagus) from acid.
There’s usually no need to seek medical advice for indigestion as it’s often mild and infrequent and specialist treatment isn’t required.
However, you should see your GP if you have recurring indigestion and any of the following apply:
These symptoms may be a sign of a more serious underlying health problem, such as a stomach ulcer or stomach cancer.
Also see your GP if you get indigestion regularly, if it causes you severe pain or discomfort, or if your regular anti-reflux remedies stop working.