What causes indigestion? Here are some possible reasons for indigestion

Medically reviewed by Neka Miller, PhD on February 11, 2021. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Indigestion is a common condition that can include experiencing abdominal pain and a feeling of fullness soon after eating. While most cases of indigestion are temporary, they can cause discomfort and could be a sign of more serious digestive problems.

So what causes indigestion and how can you lower your chances of experiencing symptoms? Read on to learn more about the causes of indigestion and what might be helpful to eat when you have indigestion.

Do you suspect you may have a sensitivity to certain foods? Find out more about potential problematic foods in your diet by checking how your body responds to 96 different foods with the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test. You collect your blood sample at home, send it to a lab for testing (with free shipping!), and get your results in a few days. This test could help point you in the right direction for an elimination diet and add-back challenge.

Possible causes of indigestion

There are many different possible causes of indigestion, so it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider to try to get to the bottom of your indigestion symptoms.

Eating too much or too quickly are typical causes of indigestion. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), use of certain medications (such as aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and peptic ulcer disease (often caused by a specific kind of bacterial infection) are among other common reasons for indigestion. Other possible causes include food intolerance or food sensitivity, and—in rare cases—certain forms of cancer.

If you often experience symptoms of indigestion after meals, you may have a sensitivity to some of the foods you eat regularly. The Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test can help you check how your body responds to 96 different foods, which could help you pinpoint problematic foods using an elimination diet and add-back challenge. The best part? You can take your test from the comfort of your home, mail it off for testing, and get your digital results in just a few days.

How do you get indigestion to go away?

To understand how you can alleviate some of your indigestion, let’s first understand what indigestion actually is. Indigestion can include a variety of uncomfortable stomach symptoms.

Symptoms of indigestion may include:

  • Pain, a burning feeling, or discomfort in your upper abdomen
  • Feeling full too soon while eating a meal
  • Feeling uncomfortably full after eating a meal
  • Bloating
  • Burping or burping up food or liquid
  • Loud growling or gurgling in your stomach
  • Nausea
  • Gas

While everyone’s experience with indigestion is different, there are a few ways you may be able to ease some of the pain and discomfort:

  • Avoid foods that trigger your indigestion
  • Eat 5-6 small meals a day instead of 3 large meals
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol and caffeine from your diet
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about alternatives for medications that trigger indigestion
  • Control stress and anxiety

If your indigestion lasts longer than 2 weeks or you begin to experience more severe symptoms, seek out medical attention.

When should I worry about indigestion?

Indigestion is very common and affects about 1 in 4 people in the U.S. each year. It can be your body’s way of responding to certain foods you’ve eaten or your eating habits, and rarely indicates a serious or underlying health condition.

However, if you have indigestion and experience any of the following symptoms, you may have a more serious condition and should see a healthcare provider right away:

  • Black, tar-like stools
  • Bloody vomit
  • Difficulty swallowing or painful swallowing
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Pain in your chest, jaw, neck, or arm
  • Severe and/or constant pain in your abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Yellowing of your eyes or skin

What should you eat when you have indigestion?

While there is no official list of foods to eat if you have indigestion, if you experience symptoms every time you eat you could be among the 20% of Americans who have a chronic acid reflux condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

When the muscular tube in your stomach allows stomach acid to reach your esophagus, the food you consume can push upward and cause acid reflux. To help control some of these symptoms, you may want to reduce your intake of foods like these if you’ve been diagnosed with GERD (but be sure to consult with your healthcare provider first before making any significant dietary changes):

  • Tomato-based sauces
  • Citrus fruits
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Fried food
  • Fast food
  • Pizza
  • Potato chips and other processed snacks
  • Chili powder and pepper (white, black, cayenne)
  • Fatty meats such as bacon and sausage
  • Cheese

On the other hand, foods that may help with your acid reflux and alleviate some of your indigestion include:

  • High-fiber foods such as whole grains, root vegetables, and green vegetables
  • Alkaline foods (higher pH levels) including bananas, melons, cauliflower, fennel, nuts
  • Watery foods such as celery, cucumber, lettuce, watermelon, broth-based soups, and herbal tea

Take the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test to check how your body responds to 96 different foods—and if you’re looking to test a broader range of foods, there’s even a Food Sensitivity Comprehensive Test that checks your body’s immune response to 204 foods. Using your test results alongside a temporary elimination diet (with an add-back challenge) may help you understand what “trigger” foods you’re sensitive to and related to digestive symptoms you experience.

All Everlywell tests allow you to collect your sample at home, mail it to a CLIA-certified lab for testing, and receive your easy-to-understand digital results in days.

What are the best foods for a sensitive stomach?

Elimination diet recipes: here’s what you need to know


1. Indigestion. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed February 11, 2021.

2. Harmon RC, Peura DA. Evaluation and management of dyspepsia. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2010;3(2):87-98.

3. Symptoms & Causes of Indigestion. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. URL. Accessed February 11, 2021.

4. Indigestion - diagnosis and treatment. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed February 11, 2021.

5. Definition & Facts of Indigestion. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. URL. Accessed February 11, 2021.

6. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed February 11, 2021.

7. GERD Diet: Foods That Help with Acid Reflux (Heartburn). Johns Hopkins Medicine. URL. Accessed February 11, 2021.

Everlywell makes lab testing easy and convenient with at-home collection and digital results in days. Learn More