Indigestion occurs when there is an over-production of acid required for digestion, leading to an inflamed or irritated stomach. This irritation causes the pain associated with indigestion, which is usually felt between the breastbone and belly button. Indigestion can be caused by over-eating, eating too quickly, smoking, alcohol, spicy or fatty food, stress, pregnancy or being overweight. Heartburn is a burning pain caused by stomach acid flowing back up the oesophagus (called reflux). This occurs if the valve (sphincter) at the top of your stomach doesn't work properly. The pain associated with indigestion can also be indicative of more serious problems e.g. heart problems, so it is advisable to visit your doctor or pharmacist if you are experiencing symptoms of indigestion or heartburn regularly .

Lots of treatment options are available, in both tablet and liquid form. Tablets can be more convenient than carrying around a bottle, however the liquid tends to be more effective in that it works quicker and can soothe the burning sensation in the throat and stomach.


Antacids help to neutralise the excess acid produced by the stomach. They are available in liquid and tablet form and should be taken after meals. Those that contain high sodium content, e.g. sodium bicarbonate, should be avoided if you are pregnant, if you have kidney problems or high blood pressure. Antacids containing magnesium can cause diarrhoea, and antacids containing aluminium or calcium can cause constipation.


Alginates work by forming a raft in the surface of the stomach preventing acid reflux into the oesophagus e.g. alginic acid

H2 Antagonists

H2 receptor antagonists e.g. Ranitidine and Famotidine, block cells in the stomach, thereby decreasing the production of acid by these cells. They are extremely effective for heartburn especially that which occurs at night. However, these should not be taken by anyone under 16 or used for more than two weeks without doctor's advice.

Proton Pump inhibitors

Proton pump inhibitors stop the stomach from producing acid by blocking an enzyme in the cells of the stomach wall. They are effective for heartburn with acid reflux e.g. pantoprazole, omeprazole and esomeprazole.


Domperidone helps the stomach empty faster and can be useful to alleviate feelings of fullness, heaviness and bloating.

Simethicone works by breaking up bubbles of trapped wind. Peppermint oil can relieve stomach pains.
Visit your doctor or pharmacist:
  • If you are vomiting or if you have unexplained weight loss
  • If you have heart problems, ulcers, bowel problems etc.
  • If the pain is severe or spreading to other parts of the body e.g. arm
  • If the pain gets worse or better after eating
  • If you are suffering heartburn or indigestion for the first time and you are over the age of 45
  • If you are on any other medication
  • If you have difficulty swallowing
  • If you have taken an indigestion remedy and it has not worked
  • If the patient experiencing heartburn or indigestion is a child, is elderly, or is pregnant.
Helpful Tips From Mulligans Pharmacy:
  • At Mulligans Pharmacy, we understand that our customers may need treatment for symptoms of a personal or sensitive nature. Our pharmacists are always available for a discreet chat in our private consultation room at your request, or you can ask a Mulligans Pharmacist a question in confidence here.
  • Avoid spicy and fatty foods
  • Avoid eating large meals or late at night
  • Cut down on or quit alcohol, caffeine and smoking
  • Avoid tight clothing – especially around the abdominal area.
  • Antacids should not be used regularly.
  • Visit your GP if the symptoms persist.
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The information provided is intended solely as a guide. Please seek the advice of your pharmacist to determine whether a particular service, medication, or treatment programme will be of value to you. Always check the dosage directions carefully on all medicines. Never combine medicines without consulting your doctor or pharmacist. All health facts and information contained herein should not be a substitute for medical advice. The use of this site is subject to our Terms & Conditions.
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