November 01, 2018

Functional dyspepsia

A common, challenging stomach pain

You were certain it was an ulcer. In fact, you began avoiding rich or spicy meals altogether because of the burning stomach pain and discomfort they triggered. But testing revealed an ulcer wasn't present. Instead, the diagnosis was functional (nonulcer) dyspepsia.

While not life-threatening, the symptoms of functional dyspepsia can significantly affect your quality of life. However, most people with this condition don't seek medical care.

No obvious cause

Functional dyspepsia and peptic ulcers can feel much the same. But unlike a peptic ulcer, which involves open sores that can be found in the digestive tract, functional dyspepsia involves recurring indigestion that has no obvious cause. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • A burning sensation or discomfort in your upper abdomen or lower chest
  • Bloating
  • Belching
  • An early feeling of fullness when eating
  • Nausea

Tests may vary

To begin the diagnostic process, your doctor will likely perform a physical exam. Blood tests may be done to help rule out other diseases that can cause symptoms similar to dyspepsia.

One component to help with diagnosis is endoscopy, in which a thin, flexible, lighted instrument (endoscope) is passed down your throat so that your doctor can view your esophagus, stomach and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum). Endoscopy also allows your doctor to collect small pieces of tissue (biopsy) from your stomach or duodenum to look for inflammation or cancerous growths.

Last year, both the American College of Gastroenterology and the Canadian...