Indigestion

Indigestion is a symptom rather than a disease, and can be caused by a variety of factors such as over-indulgence, stress and acid regurgitation. It is important to investigate long standing indigestion so that the exact reasons for this symptom can be clearly defined.

Acid regurgitation is one of the commoner causes of indigestion and often presents with symptoms such as heartburn. The sensation of heartburn is caused by irritation due to the acid reflux from the stomach into the tube connecting the stomach to the mouth (the oesophagus). This syndrome may be called a ‘hiatus hernia’ although a variety of other names can also be used to describe exactly the same symptoms.

Acupuncture is not the treatment of choice for all types of indigestion. For instance, the best treatment for over-indulgence is to eat less, but some other causes of indigestion such as hiatus hernia and stress are definitely amenable to acupuncture therapy. Exact figures for success rates are not available, but the ‘clinical impression’ that arises from a number of acupuncturists indicates that about 60 per cent of patients gain some long-term relief of their symptoms with acupuncture. Symptoms do recur and usually require re-treatment after about six to twelve months.

George T. Lewith MA MRCGP MRCP Written by George T. Lewith MA MRCGP MRCP

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