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About Functional Dyspepsia

written by: Harry Sylvester • edited by: BStone • updated: 10/30/2010

Functional dyspepsia, or non-ulcer dyspepsia, is an uncomfortable feeling or a pain in the upper abdomen that has no evident cause. Find out this condition along with its risk factors, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.

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    Functional Dyspepsia Overview

    Dyspepsia, also known as indigestion or upset stomach, refers to an uncomfortable feeling or a pain deriving from the upper gastrointestinal tract. The upper gastrointestinal tract is made up of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first portion of the small intestine). Dyspepsia has symptoms that include a burning feeling in the chest (heartburn), discomfort in the upper abdomen, belching, nausea or vomiting. Symptoms are usually transient.

    Non-ulcer dyspepsia, or functional dyspepsia, is a discomfort or a pain in the upper abdomen that has no evident cause. Unlike dyspepsia, stomach ulcer, gastritis (inflammation in the stomach lining), and esophagitis (inflamed esophagus), do not cause functional dyspepsia. If you have this condition and undergo medical examinations, your doctor may find that everything looks normal and usual in your upper gastrointestinal tract. Stomach acid and stomach lining appear good enough without any abnormalities.

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    Risk Factors

    Even though the cause is still unknown, there are some possible risk factors associated of non-ulcer dyspepsia. They include:

    • A bacterium, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), may be present in your stomach when you have non-ulcer dyspepsia. The bacterium would infect your stomach, leading to stomach ulcers. Although the role of this bacterium is arguable, it is considered good to eliminate H. pylori from your stomach.
    • Several medications can result in non-ulcer dyspepsia, including antibiotics, aspirin, ibuprofen, nitrates, calcium, iron, steroids, bisphosphonates and theophyllines.
    • This condition may occur due to a slowdown in emptying the stomach content. The stomach muscles cannot function well so that the stomach content cannot be emptied into the duodenum.
    • Some foods and beverages are believed to have made the symptoms worse, but it is hard to corroborate this fact. They may include spicy foods, peppermint, chocolate, tomatoes, coffee and alcohol.
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    Diagnosis

    The doctor might recommend taking several examinations to diagnose the condition including:

    Helicobacter pylori test

    This test includes a breath test to evaluate an enzyme made by H. pylori, or a stool test to search for an immune response to the bacteria.

    Gastric accommodation test

    If you have non-ulcer dyspepsia, your stomach may become stiff and fail to expand after food intake. In the test, the doctor utilizes a special camera, injecting a radioactive marker to measure stomach volume before and after a liquid intake.

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    Functional dyspepsia is common, but it is troublesome at times. This Bright Hub article discusses this condition along with its detailed description.
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    Diagnosis (continued)

    Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy

    This procedure uses sedatives or anesthesia. The doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope equipped with a tiny camera through your mouth to test the gastrointestinal tract. He may take a sample from the adjacent tissue to examine under a microscope.

    Gastrointestinal transit study

    This test examines how well food passes through the stomach, the small intestines and the large intestine. You will be asked to consume a meal and a capsule containing radioactive substances that allows a special camera to track it through your digestive tract.

    Liquid meal test

    The test analyzes fluid intake volume you can take along with the satiation effect it can bring.

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    Treatment

    Treatment options depend greatly on your health condition and symptoms.

    Antibiotics

    Consult your doctor about antibiotics to get rid of H. pylori, as antibiotics may also make the symptoms worse. Exterminating the bacteria can decrease the symptoms of this condition. Amoxicillin (Amoxil) is one of medications for eliminating H. pylori.

    Acid suppressing medications

    Types of medicines that can reduce the production of stomach acid are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers. Stomach acid can result in a burning sensation in the chest (heartburn). Several popular medications of PPIs in the U.S. include Nexium (ezomeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole), and Prilosec (omeprazole). H2 blockers include Zantac (ranitidine) and Tagamet (cimetidine).

    Improve diet and lose some pounds

    Avoid foods containing high cholesterol and trans-fats. Increase physical activity and exercise to shed some pounds. Avoid spicy foods, peppermint, coffee, and alcohol. Always talk to your doctor to find the best solutions for your health.

    Avoid physical and emotional stress

    Physical and emotional stress might aggravate the symptoms. Positive thinking and relaxation are of utmost importance. Learn to have positive minds in dealing with your environment.

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    Prognosis

    As the condition's symptoms might come and go, you can experience pain and relief once they attack you.

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    References

    Patient.co.uk: Non-ulcer (Functional) Dyspepsia - http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Dyspepsia-Non-ulcer-%28Functional%29.htm

    MayoClinic.com: Dyspepsia - http://www.mayoclinic.org/dyspepsia/

    Medicinenet.com: Indigestion (Dyspepsia, Upset Stomach) - http://www.medicinenet.com/dyspepsia/article.htm