Indigestion (dyspepsia) happens to almost everyone from time to time. It may cause stomach discomfort or a feeling of being too full. When severe, it can cause heartburn, bloating, nausea, and vomiting. Indigestion may be the result of your eating habits, or it can be a chronic problem.
Gastroparesis, a condition where the stomach doesn’t empty properly. It often happens to people with diabetes
Irritable bowel syndrome
Pancreatitis, an inflamed pancreas
How Can I Prevent Indigestion?
The best way to avoid getting it is to steer clear of the foods and situations that seem to cause it. You can keep a food diary to figure out what you eat that gives you trouble. Other ways to prevent the problem:
Eat small meals so your stomach doesn’t have to work as hard or as long.
Avoid foods with a lot of acid, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.
Cut back on or avoid foods and drinks that have caffeine.
If stress is a trigger, learn new ways to manage it, such as relaxation and biofeedback techniques.
If you smoke, quit. Or at least, don’t light up right before or after you eat, since smoking can irritate your stomach.
Cut back on alcohol.
Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes. They can put pressure on your stomach, which can make the food you’ve eaten move up into your esophagus.
Don’t exercise with a full stomach. Do it before a meal or at least 1 hour after you eat.
Don’t lie down right after you’ve eaten.
Wait at least 3 hours after your last meal of the day before you go to bed.
Raise the top of your bed so that your head and chest are higher than your feet. You can do this by placing 6-inch blocks under the top bedposts. Don’t use piles of pillows to achieve the same goal. You’ll only put your head at an angle that can increase pressure on your stomach and make heartburn worse.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Because indigestion can be a sign of a more serious health problem, let your doctor know if you have any of the following symptoms:
Vomiting or blood in your vomit. It may look like coffee grounds.
Weight loss you can’t explain
Loss of appetite
Stools that are bloody, black, or tarry
Severe pain in your upper-right belly
Pain in the upper- or lower-right parts of your belly
Feeling uncomfortable even if you haven’t eaten
A heart attack can cause symptoms that feel like indigestion. Get medical help right away if you have shortness of breath, sweating, or pain that spreads along your jaw, neck, or arm.
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The most common causes of chronic liver failure (where the liver fails over months to years) include:
Long-term alcohol consumption
Hemochromatosis (an inherited disorder that causes the body to absorb and store too much iron)
The causes of acute liver failure, when the liver fails rapidly, however, are often different. These include:
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose
Viruses including hepatitis A, B, and C (especially in children)
Reactions to certain prescription and herbal medications
Ingestion of poisonous wild mushrooms
What Are the Symptoms of Liver Failure?
The initial symptoms of liver failure are often ones that can be due to any number or conditions. Because of this, liver failure may be initially difficult to diagnose. Early symptoms include:
Loss of appetite
However, as liver failure progresses, the symptoms become more serious, requiring urgent care. These symptoms include:
Mental disorientation or confusion (known as hepatic encephalopathy)
How Is Liver Failure Treated?
If detected early enough, acute liver failure caused by an overdose of acetaminophen can sometimes be treated and its effects reversed. Likewise, if a virus causes liver failure, supportive care can be given at a hospital to treat the symptoms until the virus runs its course. In these cases, the liver will sometimes recover on its own.
For liver failure that is the result of long-term deterioration, the initial treatment goal may be to save whatever part of the liver is still functioning. If this is not possible, then a liver transplant is required. Fortunately, liver transplant is a common procedure that is often successful.
How Can Liver Failure Be Prevented?
The best way to prevent liver failure is to limit your risk of developing cirrhosis or hepatitis. Here are some tips to help prevent these conditions:
Get a hepatitis vaccine or an immunoglobulin shot to prevent hepatitis A or B.
Eat a proper diet from all of the food groups.
Drink alcohol in moderation. Avoid alcohol when you are taking acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Practice proper hygiene. Since germs are commonly spread by hands, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after you use the bathroom. Also, wash your hands before you touch any food.
Don’t handle any blood or blood products.
Don’t share any personal toiletry items, including toothbrushes and razors.
If you get a tattoo or a body piercing, make sure the conditions are sanitary and all equipment is aseptic (free of disease-causing microorganisms).
Be sure to use protection (condoms) when having sex.
If you use illegal intravenous drugs, don’t share needles with anyone.
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