Feeling burning stomach pain or other ulcer symptoms with no detectable cause? A range of treatments can offer relief for this common digestive disorder.
Functional dyspepsia (dis-PEP-see-uh) is a term for recurring signs and symptoms of indigestion that have no obvious cause. Functional dyspepsia is also called nonulcer stomach pain or nonulcer dyspepsia.
Functional dyspepsia is common and can be long lasting — although signs and symptoms are mostly intermittent. These signs and symptoms resemble those of an ulcer, such as pain or discomfort in your upper abdomen, often accompanied by bloating, belching and nausea.
Signs and symptoms of functional dyspepsia may include:
Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience persistent signs and symptoms that worry you.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:
It's not clear what causes functional dyspepsia. Doctors consider it a functional disorder, which means that routine testing may not show any abnormalities. Hence, it is diagnosed based on symptoms.
Factors that can increase the risk of functional dyspepsia include:
Your doctor will likely review your signs and symptoms and perform a physical examination. A number of diagnostic tests may help your doctor determine the cause of your discomfort and rule out other disorders causing similar symptoms. These may include:
In some cases, additional tests to assess the emptying and relaxation (accommodation) of the stomach may be considered.
Functional dyspepsia that is long lasting and isn't controlled by lifestyle changes may require treatment. What treatment you receive depends on your signs and symptoms. Treatment may combine medications with behavior therapy.
Medications that may help in managing the signs and symptoms of functional dyspepsia include:
Medications that block acid 'pumps.' Proton pump inhibitors shut down the acid "pumps" within acid-secreting stomach cells.
Over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors include lansoprazole (Prevacid 24HR), omeprazole (Prilosec OTC) and esopremazole (Nexium 24HR). Proton pump inhibitors are also available by prescription.
Working with a counselor or therapist may help relieve signs and symptoms that aren't helped by medications. A counselor or therapist can teach you relaxation techniques that may help you cope with your signs and symptoms. You may also learn ways to reduce stress in your life to prevent functional dyspepsia from recurring.
Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to help you control your functional dyspepsia.
Changes to your diet and how you eat might help control your signs and symptoms. Consider trying to:
Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Having an empty stomach can sometimes produce 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.
Avoid skipping meals. Avoid large meals and overeating. Eat smaller meals more frequently.
Stress-reduction techniques or relaxation therapy may help you control your signs and symptoms. To reduce stress, spend time doing things that you enjoy, such as hobbies or sports.
People with functional dyspepsia often turn to complementary and alternative medicine to help them cope. Further studies are needed before complementary and alternative treatments can be recommended, but when used along with your doctor's care, they may provide relief from your signs and symptoms.
If you're interested in complementary and alternative treatments, talk to your doctor about:
Herbal supplements. Herbal remedies that may be of some benefit for functional dyspepsia include a combination of peppermint and caraway oils, which relieved pain symptoms in a 4-week trial. Iberogast (STW5), a therapy containing extracts of nine herbs, may improve intestinal motility and relieve gastrointestinal spasms.
Rikkunshito, a Japanese herbal remedy, also appeared beneficial, with significant improvements in abdominal pain, heartburn and bloating than was reported with placebo. Artichoke leaf extract may reduce other symptoms of functional dyspepsia, including vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain.
Make an appointment with your family doctor if you have signs or symptoms that worry you. If functional dyspepsia is suspected, your doctor may refer you to a specialist in digestive diseases (gastroenterologist).
Take these steps to prepare for your appointment:
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your visit. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out.
For functional dyspepsia, some basic questions to ask include:
In addition to the questions you've prepared, don't hesitate to ask your doctor other questions that occur to you during your appointment.
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow more time to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
January 29th, 2021