Digestion is the complex process of breaking down ingested food into nutrients that can be absorbed into the blood. These nutrients are essential for the provision of energy and all body functions, including growth and cell repair. The process of digestion begins in the mouth and requires many complex proteins known as enzymes. Indigestion typically causes heartburn and regurgitation, but chest pain, belching, and chronic cough also occur in nearly half of the patients. The symptoms often appear upon laying down, straining, or heavy lifting after meals. An estimated 10% of all general practitioner consultations in the U.K. are for indigestion.
Young people with indigestion respond well to simple dietary changes and antacids (to suppress the excess secretion of stomach acid) and rarely need additional examinations to figure out the cause of indigestion. However, patients over the age of 55 years, especially those with atypical features, should undergo an endoscopy to rule out any serious illness.