What Is Dyspepsia?

Dyspepsia, which means “bad” (dys) “digestion” (pepsia) is a term which is often used by doctors to describe a set of symptoms which are believed to have their cause somewhere in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. Dyspepsia consists of upper abdominal pain or discomfort, which is recurrent and is not associated with bowel movements. The symptoms can include a burning or sharp pain, dull ache, abdominal fullness or pressure, or even nausea or vomiting. Often symptoms are worst after eating. Dyspepsia affects approximately 25% of the population.

What Causes Dyspepsia?
There are many possible causes of dyspepsia symptoms, so in the setting of chronic symptoms it is best to see a doctor to clarify the diagnosis. Dyspepsia can be caused by a chronic peptic ulcer, infections of the stomach, or by gallstones. Dyspepsia is diagnosed as functional when a person suffers the symptoms of dyspepsia but with no identifiable explanation for their symptoms. The cause of functional dyspepsia is not clear but may involve abnormal communication between the upper gut and the brain (brain-gut axis).

What Can I Do to Help My Symptoms?
The best treatment for dyspepsia is avoiding the foods and behaviors that worsen the symptoms. There is no one diet that works for everyone. Many find it helps to eat meals at regular times, eating slowly, avoid overeating and avoid alcohol or tobacco. If fullness, nausea or vomiting are main symptoms then small meals through out the day are often better tolerated. Some people find that stress is a major trigger for their symptoms. In that case using stress reduction strategies or psychologically based treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy or hypnosis, may help. Some medications can be helpful as well, such as those that reduce acid in the stomach.

What we are doing at CNS/WH:
Clinical research is essential in advancing our understanding of biological and psychological mechanisms underlying functional gastrointestinal disorders and IBS and to develop more effective treatments. The only way these studies can be performed is when affected patients are willing to participate in them. If you are interested in these studies, Click here for further information.