Learn about functional dyspepsia, a digestive disorder with no clear cause. Treatment may help relieve this common condition.
Functional dyspepsia (dis-PEP-see-uh) is a term for recurring symptoms of an upset stomach that have no obvious cause. Functional dyspepsia also is called nonulcer dyspepsia.
Functional dyspepsia is common. It is a constant condition but symptoms don't happen all the time. Symptoms resemble those of an ulcer. They include pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen, bloating, belching and nausea.
Symptoms of functional dyspepsia may include:
Make an appointment with your health care provider if you experience persistent symptoms that worry you.
Seek medical attention right away if you experience:
No one knows what causes functional dyspepsia. Health care providers consider it a functional disorder. That means it can't be explained by a medical condition, so routine testing may not show any problems or causes. As a result, the diagnosis is based on symptoms.
Some factors can increase the risk of functional dyspepsia. They include:
Your health care provider most likely will review your symptoms and perform a physical exam. Several tests can help find the cause of your discomfort and rule out other disorders. These may include:
In some cases, you may have other tests to see how well your stomach empties its contents.
An upper gastrointestinal endoscopy involves inserting a flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope down your throat and into your esophagus. A tiny camera on the end of the endoscope lets your doctor examine your esophagus, stomach and the beginning of your small intestine, called the duodenum.
Functional dyspepsia that can't be managed with lifestyle changes may need treatment. Treatment depends on your symptoms. It may combine medicines and behavior therapy.
Some medicines may help manage symptoms of functional dyspepsia. They include:
Medicines that block acid "pumps." Medicines called proton pump inhibitors shut down the acid "pumps" within acid-secreting stomach cells.
Proton pump inhibitors available without a prescription include lansoprazole (Prevacid 24HR), omeprazole (Prilosec OTC) and esomeprazole (Nexium 24HR). Proton pump inhibitors also are available by prescription.
Working with a counselor or therapist may relieve symptoms that aren't helped by medicines. A counselor or therapist can show you relaxation techniques to help you cope with your symptoms. You may also learn ways to reduce stress to help manage your symptoms.
Your health care provider may recommend lifestyle changes to help you control your functional dyspepsia.
Changes to what you eat and how you eat might help control your symptoms. Try to:
Eat smaller, more-frequent meals. Having an empty stomach sometimes contributes to functional dyspepsia. Nothing but acid in your stomach may make you feel sick. Try eating a small snack such as a cracker or a piece of fruit.
Try not to skip meals. Avoid large meals and overeating. Eat smaller meals more often.
Stress-reduction techniques or relaxation therapy may help you manage your symptoms. To reduce stress, spend time doing hobbies, sports and other things you enjoy.
People with functional dyspepsia often turn to complementary and alternative medicines to help them cope. Further studies are needed before complementary and alternative medicines can be recommended. But they may provide some symptom relief when used with other approaches suggested by your health care provider.
If you're interested in complementary and alternative treatments, talk to your provider about:
Herbal supplements. A combination of peppermint and caraway oils may offer some benefit for functional dyspepsia. Together, they relieved pain symptoms in a l-week trial. Iberogast contains extracts of nine herbs. It may relieve gastrointestinal spasms and improve the intestine's ability to move food.
A Japanese herbal remedy called rikkunshito also may be helpful. Researchers found it improved abdominal pain, heartburn and bloating better than placebo. A placebo is a treatment with no therapeutic effect that looks the same as, and is given the same way as, the medicine or treatment being tested in a study. Artichoke leaf extract may reduce symptoms of functional dyspepsia.
You may start by seeing your primary care provider. Or you may be referred right away to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of diseases of the stomach and intestines (gastroenterologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as fasting before having a specific test. Make a list of:
Take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember the information you're given.
For functional dyspepsia, some basic questions to ask your provider include:
Don't hesitate to ask other questions.
Your provider is likely to ask you several questions, such as:
Avoid doing anything that seems to worsen your symptoms.