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Pain due to heartburn and indigestion often radiates between the shoulder blades, whereas oesophageal spasm (sometimes triggered by acid reflux) more commonly causes chest pain, and can be mistaken for cardiac chest pain.

Indigestion encompasses a vast array of symptoms in the upper digestive tract, including:

  • Heartburn
  • Fullness
  • Early satiety
  • Upper abdominal ache or pain
  • Flatulence
  • Hiccoughs
  • Belching

These symptoms are known collectively as dyspepsia, and this occurs in up to 10% of the adult population. At least half of these seek medical help, and dyspepsia accounts for 40% of referrals to a gastroenterologist.

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