An introduction to nausea, loss of appetite and indigestion
We will all have experienced one or two symptoms of indigestion and typically, these episodes will have been after a heavy or fatty meal. Symptoms such as feeling bloated, the need to burp or a touch of heartburn are commonly encountered and if transient, considered to be ‘normal’.
However, some people experience more prolonged bouts of indigestion with persistent symptoms. Common symptoms include feeling bloated, excessive and abnormal burping or stomach discomfort. However, from time to time, indigestion can also lead to nausea and loss of appetite.
This page discusses the symptoms of mild nausea and loss of appetite in relation to indigestion. It also describes what you can do to improve your digestive health.
Why does indigestion cause nausea and appetite loss?
Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, arises because the normal functioning of the upper part of the digestive system (from mouth to stomach) is disturbed. This means that when food is eaten, the usual mechanisms leading to the breakdown of food in the stomach do not work as well.
There are number of consequences of this, such as:
- The stomach empties more slowly and feels full for longer
- The lining of the stomach walls becomes irritated or inflamed.
Nausea and loss of appetite are not the most common symptoms of indigestion. They occur because of a type of protective mechanism for the stomach – a form of natural signal telling your body not to eat. This is useful if your stomach is irritated and still full from the last meal.
Usually the symptoms of nausea and loss of appetite will start soon after a meal and fade away a few hours after. Nevertheless, if your indigestion is troublesome, your appetite may not get back to its normal level until you deal with the fundamental problem.
Diet and lifestyle tips
If your body is telling you not to eat, the first thing you should try to do is to listen to what it is saying – within reason of course.
- Start by eating smaller amounts of bland foods which are more digestible. For example, try some organic wholemeal cereals with soy milk
- Chew your food well – this will help your stomach by starting off the digestive process, giving it less work to do
- Avoid acidic, fatty or spicy foods
- But, at the same time, if there is something which takes your fancy, eat it.
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Are there herbal and natural remedies to help me?
Herbal remedies, in the form of ‘stomach bitters’ or ‘bitter herbs’, have been used for a long time to help ease a variety of indigestion symptoms. This class of medicine works by helping the stomach digest food better.
It is important for the tongue to taste bitterness when using these herbs, so they are best used in liquid (or tincture) form. Bitterness triggers off a nerve reflex from the tongue which leads to the stomach producing more digestive enzymes, reducing acidity levels. They are best taken in liquid form 5 to 10 minutes before each meal.
Ali's TOP TIPS: If your nausea or loss of appetite is accompanied by other symptoms of indigestion such as bloating and abnormal burping, use Digestisan drops, a combination of artichoke, dandelion, boldo and peppermint.
TIP: If your symptoms are mainly nausea or loss of appetite, use Centaurium drops. This is a stomach bitter but also helps to bring back your normal appetite.
What about medicines from my doctor?
If your symptoms are the result of indigestion, your doctor is likely to recommend medicines for indigestion such as antacids, H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors as well as give you a type of medicine known as an anti-emetic to help with the nausea.
If your nausea and loss of appetite does not improve or worsens, seek the advice of your doctor. Also, see your doctor if these symptoms last for more than 7 days and you start to notice a loss of weight.
Lastly, seek help urgently if you start to vomit, notice blood in your stool or vomit, or if you experience severe stomach pains.