Many side effects can occur as a result of menopause because the body goes through several hormonal changes. One of the side effects of menopause is indigestion. Also known as dyspepsia, indigestion refers to the feeling of fullness and/or discomfort after eating. There are several symptoms as well as ways to find relief for menopausal indigestion.
Some of the symptoms of indigestion include a bloated or full feeling, burping and/or gas, nausea and/or vomiting, an acidic taste in the mouth, abdominal pain, burning in the upper abdominal area of the stomach, a growling stomach and heartburn.
Menopausal Effect on the GI Tract
The hormone levels in the blood change both before and during menopause. The gastrointestinal tract is affected by these hormone levels, which can lead to loose or dry stools. Changes in estrogen and testosterone can alter the movement throughout the intestinal tract. Hormone levels, such as decreased amounts of estrogen, can also affect how well the esophagus keeps air and acid from going back up the esophagus.
Luteinizing hormones and follicle-stimulating hormones increase in production during menopause. Since the liver breaks down hormones in the blood when they are not needed by the body, an overload of these two hormones can cause the liver to work harder, leaving less energy for the body to devote to the digestive process.
Factors that Aggravate Menopausal Indigestion
In addition to hormone changes, there are certain factors that can aggravate indigestion during menopause. For example, stress can cause more stomach upset. Overeating and/or eating high-fat, sugar-laden foods can disrupt the natural balance of the digestive system, causing increased indigestion symptoms. Also, avoid chewing gum to decrease the amount of air that is swallowed, which will reduce gas.
Bacteria, both good and bad, is everywhere, including in the digestive tract. Good bacteria, or probiotics, can help create a healthy balance (or "flora") of bacteria in the stomach. This can help lessen symptoms of menopausal indigestion. To consume more good bacteria, eat yogurt every day and/or consume other foods with probiotics. Probiotic pills also available.
Certain teas can help aid digestion during menopause and decrease the incidence of heartburn and stomach upset. Enjoy a warm cup of tea after a meal.
Peppermint tea, for example, contains carvone and methone, which help to neutralize the abundance of hydrochloric acid that occurs when an excess amount of food enters the digestive tract all at once. Peppermint tea also contains menthol, which can help relax the digestive muscles.
Chamomile tea can help as well, by bringing relief from gas, indigestion and stomach cramps. Anyone with ragweed allergies should stay away from chamomile.