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Why do I get indigestion after eating certain foods, and what should I do next?

Gastroenterology Diet & Nutrition

Í am a 38 year old female. I have noticed a drastic change in my digestion over the past 2 years, where I noticed I get indigestion (stomach discomfort and gas) after eating certain foods, such as bread and pasta. It can also react to other seemingly random foods at different times of the day, such as cabbage at lunch time, coffee with milk at 4pm and 1 slice of mooncake at 8 pm. The discomfort can get so bad at times that I feel like I need to vomit. I have been on probiotics, charcoal, and Actal antacid pills without much improvement. I would like to know what could be possible causes of the problem, and what I should do next to investigate? Any help is appreciated!

DOCTOR’S ANSWER (2)

The symptoms you describe sound like food intolerance. This is a condition due to the inability to digest and absorb certain food substances. The undigested food substances are metabolized by gut bacteria to produce gases, which in turn cause the symptoms of 'indigestion'.

Studies show that dietary modification is the most effective way to improve symptoms. Medication is rarely helpful. The problem is that many patients are not able to identify what food substances they are intolerant to on their own. Further, as t people can become intolerant to foods that they could previously digest easily. 

Hydrogen/ methane breath testing can help to test for lactose and fructose intolerance, which are two of the more common types of food intolerance. The other types may be identified through a low FODMAP diet. This often needs to be done under the guidance of a specialist dietitian. These services should be available in any tertiary hospital or digestive group practice.

Less commonly, the symptoms can be due to an underlying medical problem. If your symptoms persist or worsen, you may want to consider seeing a doctor to ascertain this.

I hope this is helpful.


Dr Jarrod Lee
MBBS(S'pore), MRCP(UK)

Jarrod Lee Gastroenterology & Liver Clinic
38 IRRAWADDY ROAD
MOUNT ELIZABETH NOVENA SPECIALIST CENTRE
#10 - 58 Singapore 329563

836 views 27 Sep 2018

Try to take smaller portions each time you eat for a period of time and see if there is any improvement. Fluids and exercise may help. Consider losing some weight if you are on the larger side.

The best way to achieve this is to combine regular exercises with restricting your daily Calorie intake. And do ensure you open your bowel regularly since constipation may worsen your symptoms.

Lastly, watch for alarm features such as vomiting, unexplained weight loss, passing black stools or having your urine colour deepening to almost tea colour. You will need professional help for the above. Best regards.

- Dr Quan


Dr Quan Wai Leong
MBBS, MRCP, FRCP, FAMS

Gastroenterology and Hepatology, GI Endoscopy and Liver Centre @Royal Square
101 IRRAWADDY ROAD
ROYAL SQUARE
#15 - 01 Singapore 329565

808 views 28 Sep 2018
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Disclaimer: Any answers provided are for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

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