Dyspepsia

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Overview

Of all adults 30–40% experience symptoms of upper abdominal pain or discomfort but an organic cause is found in only a minority who seek medical care. The remaining group is labeled as having functional dyspepsia. Individuals with functional dyspepsia suffer significant morbidity and expend significant resources through both direct and indirect costs. Despite periods of remission, patients will usually have continued intermittent symptoms long-term  with approximately 50% consulting a health care provider for their symptoms at some time in their life.

Dyspepsia is defined as having one or more symptoms of epigastric pain, burning, postprandial fullness, or early satiation. Bloating and nausea often coexist with dyspepsia but are nonspecific and are thus not included in its definition. Heartburn is also excluded from diagnostic symptom criteria for dyspepsia since it is thought to primarily arise from the esophagus and it is suggestive of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) although it too may occur concomitantly. Similarly, retrosternal pain suggestive of esophageal origin such as that embraced by the term noncardiac chest pain is likewise distinguished from dyspepsia.

Symptoms

A doctor will diagnose dyspepsia if a person has one or moreTrusted Source of the following symptoms:


pain relating to the digestive system

a burning sensation in the digestive tract

feeling too full after eating

feeling full too quickly during eating

A person may also experience bloating and nausea.


A person can have symptoms even if they have not eaten a large amount.

Causes

Indigestion can result from lifestyle or dietary habits, a medical condition, or the use of some drugs.


Common causes of indigestion include:


dietary factors

smoking

obesity

stress

If there is no identifiable structural or metabolic cause, a doctor will diagnose functional dyspepsia.


Dyspepsia can also be a symptom of a wide range of health conditions, includingTrusted Source:


GERD

peptic ulcer disease

stomach cancer or another type of cancer

medications, such as antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

obesity

pancreatitis

gallstones

liver disease

gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach

hiatal hernia

infection, especially with H. pylori

celiac disease

irritable bowel disease

irritable bowel syndrome


Risk factors

Eating too much, eating too fast, eating high-fat foods, or eating during stressful situations. Drinking too much alcohol. Cigarette smoking. Stress and fatigue.

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Complications

In rare cases, severe and persistent indigestion can lead to complications. These include:


Esophageal stricture

Persistent exposure to stomach acid can cause scarring in the upper gastrointestinal tract. The tract can become narrow and constricted, causing difficulty with swallowing and chest pain. Surgery may be necessary to widen the esophagus.


Pyloric stenosis

In some cases, stomach acid can cause long-term irritation of the pylorus, the passage between the stomach and the small intestine. If the pylorus becomes scarred, it can narrow. If that happens, a person may not be able to digest food properly, and they may need surgery.


Peritonitis

Over time, stomach acid can cause the lining of the digestive system to break down, leading to an infection called peritonitis. Medication or surgery may be necessary.


Prevention

Eat slowly. Avoid foods that contain high amounts of acids, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes. Reduce or avoid foods and beverages that contain caffeine. If stress is a trigger for your indigestion, learn new methods for managing stress, such as relaxation and biofeedback techniques.