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Understanding Functional Dyspepsia

Dyspepsia is a set of symptoms in the upper belly (abdomen) that are linked to digestion. You may feel full too quickly after eating, and have pain or a burning feeling. Or you may have other problems. In some cases, dyspepsia is caused by an infection or physical problem that can be treated. But functional dyspepsia is a group of symptoms that may have different causes in different people. The symptoms are long-term (chronic). You’ll need to learn ways to manage your symptoms over time. This may include taking medicines. It may also mean making changes to your diet and managing your mental health.

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What causes functional dyspepsia?

Experts are still learning what may cause functional dyspepsia. The symptoms are likely from a digestive tract that is very sensitive to certain things. These may include stress and some foods and drinks. In some cases, the symptoms may start after an infection with bacteria, a virus, or parasites. In other cases, the movement (motility) of the digestive tract is abnormal. Or the ability of the stomach to handle food has changed.

Symptoms of functional dyspepsia

Symptoms have lasted for 3 months or more and can include:

  • Feeling full too quickly

  • Burping a lot

  • A burning feeling in the middle of your chest

  • Pain that doesn’t get better after a bowel movement or passing gas

  • Upset stomach (nausea) or vomiting after eating

  • Feeling bloated

  • Loss of appetite

You may also have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These can include ongoing constipation or diarrhea.

Treatment for functional dyspepsia

In functional dyspepsia, you may have an upper endoscopy , but the results are often normal. But this test may be advised, depending on your specific case. This is to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms. Certain symptoms may require more tests.

Your healthcare provider may prescribe a medicine to help ease your symptoms. You may take one or more of these:

  • Medicine to reduce stomach acid. You may take an H2-receptor antagonist. Or you may take a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). These medicines lower the amount of acid your stomach makes.

  • Medicine to increase digestive movement or allow the stomach to handle food better.

  • Neuromodulator medicine. Some of these types of medicines may help to reduce symptoms.

  • Medicine to treat a stomach bacteria. If tests show you have a stomach bacteria, you will be prescribed antibiotics.

Living with functional dyspepsia

To manage your condition over time, you will also need to:

  • Change your diet. Caffeine, alcohol, and foods that are fatty or spicy can cause symptoms in some people. It may help to keep a diary of when your symptoms occur and what you were eating or drinking. This can help you find out what foods and drinks to avoid.

  • Focus on your mental health. Anxiety, depression, and stress can also cause symptoms in some people. Learning ways to manage your mental health can help reduce symptoms. This may include working with a counselor.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Symptoms that don’t get better, or get worse

  • New symptoms

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Vomiting that doesn’t stop

  • Vomiting blood

  • Bloody stool or black tarry stool

  • Unexplained weight loss

Online Medical Reviewer: Jen Lehrer MD
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2022
© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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