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Understanding Functional Dyspepsia

Male body showing digestive system without liver.

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 isn’t caused by a disease. 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.

How to say it

dis-PEP-see-yuh

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.

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

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. This is also called a motility medicine. You may be given metoclopramide.

  • Antidepressant or antianxiety medicine. Some of these types of medicines may help to reduce symptoms.

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

Living withfunctional 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

  • Vomiting that doesn’t stop

  • Vomiting blood

  • Bloody stool or black tarry stool

  • Unexplained weight loss

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