Gastrointestinal Diseases
Functional Dyspepsia
 
​Summary:
  • Functional dyspepsia is the medical term for a condition that causes an upset stomach or pain or discomfort in the upper belly.
  • The cause is usually unclear, but it may be attributed to motor or nerve problems, infection, or psychological and social factors.
  • Although dyspepsia is unlikely to develop severe complications, it can affect the quality of life, due to the pain or discomfort it causes.

What is functional dyspepsia?
Functional dyspepsia is the medical term for a condition that causes an upset stomach or pain or discomfort in the upper belly. It is a common condition that can affect all age groups. It usually causes a sense of discomfort, and feeling full quickly when eating. 

Cause:
It is usually not clear what causes functional dyspepsia. However, the causes may include: 
  • Motor or nerve problems: The process of digesting food involves a series of events involving the nerves and muscles of the digestive tract. Problems in this system can cause the stomach to empty more slowly than normal, causing nausea and vomiting, feeling full quickly when eating, or bloating.
  • Pain sensitivity: The stomach normally stretches as we eat to hold more food. However, some people are sensitive to this stretching and feel pain. It is not clear why this happens.
  • Infection: Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterial infection of the stomach that can lead to inflammation (gastritis) or ulcers. 
  • Psychological and social factors: People with functional dyspepsia often have mood problems, like anxiety or depression.

Risk Factors:
  • Stomach-irritating drugs 
  • Reflux 
  • Anxiety or depression 
  • Alcohol 

Symptoms:
  • Upper-abdominal pain 
  • Heartburn (burning sensation) in the chest or abdomen
  • Feeling full quickly when eating  
  • Bloating 
  • Bowel sounds 
  • Eructation  
  • Vomiting, nausea and weight loss
  • Gas 

When to see a doctor? 
If the above-mentioned symptoms continue for longer than two weeks, or upon the onset of any of the symptoms below:
  • Shortness of breath; 
  • Difficulty swallowing; 
  • Non-stop vomiting; 
  • Vomiting blood; 
  • Bloody or dark-colored stool; 
  • Pain in the chest, jaw, neck or arm; 
  • Sudden weight loss. 

Complications:
Although dyspepsia is unlikely to develop severe complications, it can affect the quality of life, due to the pain or discomfort it causes. And when dyspepsia is a sign of a certain medical condition, severe complications may follow. 

Diagnosis:
To start with, the doctor reviews the patient’s family history, and conducts a thorough clinical examination. This may be sufficient if the dyspepsia is mild. Or, if it is not, the doctor may require one of the following tests: 
  • Blood or urine test;
  • X-ray or CT-scan; 
  • Upper endoscopy; 
  • Infection-detection tests.

Treatment:
Treatment of dyspepsia varies from one case to another. However, the following general guidelines may help avoid and alleviate dyspepsia:
  • Reduce the caffeine intake (in beverages such as coffee and tea);
  • Lose weight, if you are obese or overweight; 
  • Maintain a pre-sleep non-eating window of 3 - 4 hours;
  • Reduce spicy and greasy foods;
  • Quit smoking; 
  • Avoid exercising right after eating; 
  • Eat small proportions, and make sure to chew well; 
  • Reduce stress, by relaxing, and following stress-reduction strategies; 
  • Drink water after your meals. 
Clinical Education General Department
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