Functional dyspepsia (FD) is a chronic digestive condition that includes feelings of prolonged indigestion without a clear structural cause.
However, many nonstructural factors can cause FD, including bacterial infection, diet, and some medications.
This article will detail the causes, treatments, and symptoms of FD.
Dyspepsia is the medical term for indigestion. When you experience symptoms of continuous indigestion, without any structural abnormalities in the upper digestive area, healthcare professionals will refer to your condition as “functional.”
If you have FD, you may feel pain or irritation in your upper digestive tract and experience early or prolonged fullness for a month or longer.
There is no single cause of FD. Many factors can result in FD symptoms, either on their own or in combination with one another.
Some of the causes of the condition may include:
- intestinal microbiome changes
- the bacterium H. pylori
- more acid secretion than usual
- inflammation in the upper digestive tract
- a disruption in the stomach’s ability to digest food
- diet and lifestyle habits
- side effects of medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Approximately 20 percent of people around the globe have FD. You may be more at risk of developing FD if you are female, smoke, or take NSAIDs.
- high body mass index (BMI)
- acute gastroenteritis
The symptoms of FD can vary from person to person, per
- burning or pain in your upper digestive tract
- feeling full after eating just a small amount of food
- sour taste in the mouth
- weight loss
- psychological distress related to the condition
For a doctor to diagnose you with FD, you will generally have to experience symptoms for 1 month or longer. Your symptoms may come and go over time.
A doctor can often diagnose FD by assessing your symptoms and medical history. Long-term feelings of early fullness when eating and prolonged fullness following meals, in addition to upper abdominal discomfort, may be enough for a doctor to diagnose FD.
However, your doctor may order emergency diagnostic tests if you:
- have lost weight unexpectedly
- are older than age 60
- have a family history of cancer in your gastrointestinal tract
- are bleeding or vomiting
As part of a general diagnosis, doctors may wish to rule out other conditions that can produce similar symptoms. These include:
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- peptic ulcer disease
- irritable bowel syndrome
- upper abdominal-related cancers
The tests a doctor may order include:
- esophageal pH monitoring
- barium X-ray
- blood tests
- bacterium tests, either through blood, stool, or breath
There’s no known single cause of FD, and your symptoms may vary significantly from someone else’s. In turn, there is a broad range of treatment options for FD, according to a
The severity of your symptoms will help your doctor decide what treatment is best for you. Often, you may be able to treat the condition without the use of any medication. Or you may need a short-term or long-term medication to manage symptoms.
Your doctor may also recommend a combination of several methods for relieving symptoms of FD.
Your doctor may recommend the following medications to help with FD symptoms:
- acid-neutralizing medications called H2 receptor blockers
- acid-blocking medications called proton pump inhibitors
- gas-relieving medications
- antidepressants such as amitriptyline
- esophagus-strengthening medications called prokinetic agents
- stomach-emptying medications such as metoclopramide
- antibiotics, if you have the H. pylori bacteria in your body
These medications may be available over the counter or by prescription only. Your doctor will recommend the length of time you should use any given medication.
As a result, psychological interventions may be beneficial in treating those with FD, according to a
More specifically, a
Other psychological interventions that may help relieve symptoms of FD, per a
Assessing your diet can be an important first step in managing FD. It may be that what, when, or how you eat is causing your symptoms. In these instances, dietary changes can provide long-term relief.
The following dietary and lifestyle adjustments may help to relieve your FD symptoms:
- eat smaller meals more frequently
- skip high-fat foods because they may slow the emptying of your stomach
- prioritize low FODMAP foods
- avoid smoking
- limit alcohol intake
- limit caffeine intake
While medical professionals may often recommend many of these adjustments, a
You may find it beneficial to work with a doctor or a dietitian to determine which dietary changes will work best for you.
The symptoms of FD can interfere with your activities of daily living, so seeking psychological support as part of an overall treatment plan may help you manage your FD symptoms.
FD occurs in each person differently. Symptoms can vary, and your doctor may order tests to confirm a diagnosis.
Remember to get the support you need to help manage the condition. Modifications to your lifestyle, certain medications, and mental health support may relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life.