When stomach issues happen without a reason: What is functional dyspepsia and how to identify it

The exact cause of functional dyspepsia is unknown; however, experts suggest that the condition occurs due to functional abnormality in the muscles and nerves that control the digestive system.

Myupchar August 12, 2020 17:21:08 IST
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When stomach issues happen without a reason: What is functional dyspepsia and how to identify it

Functional dyspepsia refers to an upset stomach, pain and indigestion that does not occur due to an underlying cause like an ulcer. Studies suggest that about 5-20 percent of the people in the world have this condition.

If you have functional dyspepsia, you may feel full during a meal and a burning sensation in the upper stomach right below the rib cage which may or may not occur before or after meals. The symptoms are not always mild and they can be so serious at times that you won’t be able to eat or go about your daily activities.

Types of functional dyspepsia

Depending on the apparent symptoms, functional dyspepsia is of two types:

  • Postprandial distress syndrome: A feeling of fullness right after meals or during meals that makes you unable to finish a regular-size meal for three or more days per week in the past three months and a history of such occurrences for at least six months.
  • Epigastric pain syndrome: Pain or burning sensation right below the ribs for at least one or more days every week within the last 3 months and a history of such occurrences for at least 6 months.

Causes of functional dyspepsia

The exact cause of functional dyspepsia is unknown; however, experts suggest that the condition occurs due to functional abnormality in the muscles and nerves that control the digestive system.

In some cases, functional dyspepsia occurs after a gastrointestinal infection, which suggests that it occurs due to inflammation in the intestine.

People with functional dyspepsia often show slow gastric emptying (passage of food through the digestive tract) and sometimes fast emptying. Their stomach may not relax completely after eating, which is what causes early satiety - this is seen in about 40 percent of people with functional dyspepsia. Those with postprandial distress syndrome usually indicate a possible allergy or infection trigger while those with epigastric pain syndrome show an increased load of Streptococci in their oral cavity. Streptococcus is a bacteria that is commonly found in the oral mucosa. Excess growth of this bacteria may cause tooth decay and other problems.

A lot of people with functional dyspepsia have anxiety, stress or depression as well.

How is functional dyspepsia diagnosed

The typical symptoms of functional dyspepsia are usually enough to diagnose the condition. However, sometimes medicines cause stomach issues and hence your doctor may ask you about your medical history and if you are taking any medicines at the time.

Also, your doctor may rule out H.pylori infection, which can be a cause of gastric ulcers. If you have a history of gastrointestinal cancer or show symptoms like sudden weight loss, vomiting, dysphagia or iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor may do a gastroscopy (endoscopy of the digestive tract).

How to manage functional dyspepsia

Functional dyspepsia is treated/managed in the following ways, depending on what your doctor recommends and prescribes to you:

  • Antidepressants, yoga, or stress management
  • Stomach relaxers
  • Antibiotics to treat any infection in the stomach (if found)
  • Medicines to improve digestive motility (this will help pass the food easily through the digestive tract)
  • Medicines to treat stomach acids like proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers.

Dietary changes, like eating smaller and low-fat meals, can also be tried. Some patients get symptomatic relief by eliminating wheat from their diet. Spicy foods and carbonated drinks should be avoided.

For more, read our article on Upset stomach

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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