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Dyspepsia (Indigestion)

An uncomfortable, often painful feeling in the stomach, resulting from impaired digestion. Symptoms include burning stomach pain, bloating, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Dyspepsia (Indigestion)

Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is a term used to describe one or more symptoms including a feeling of fullness during a meal, uncomfortable fullness after a meal, and burning or pain in the upper abdomen.

Indigestion is common in adults and can occur once in a while or as often as every day.

What causes indigestion?

Indigestion can be caused by a condition in the digestive tract such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease, cancer, or abnormality of the pancreas or bile ducts. If the condition improves or resolves, the symptoms of indigestion usually improve.

Sometimes a person has indigestion for which a cause cannot be found. This type of indigestion, called functional dyspepsia, is thought to occur in the area where the stomach meets the small intestine. The indigestion may be related to abnormal motility—the squeezing or relaxing action—of the stomach muscle as it receives, digests, and moves food into the small intestine....Read more about Dyspepsia (Indigestion)
NIH - National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Acupuncture for treating functional dyspepsia

Functional dyspepsia (FD) has been a worldwide gastric disorder. More effective therapies are needed with fewer adverse effects than are seen with conventional medications. In the East, acupuncture has been recognized for a long time as a positive therapy for the treatment of functional gastric disorders. To date, no robust evidence on its efficacy and safety has been found. The evidence obtained has overwhelmingly supported no significance of acupuncture compared with medications and superiority of acupuncture compared with sham acupuncture in FD treatment; however, the low quality of evidence obtained has not permitted a robust conclusion concerning the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in the treatment of FD.

Proton pump inhibitors for functional dyspepsia

Acid suppression is a possible treatment for functional dyspepsia (indigestion), which is recurring pain over the stomach, bloating, burping or the feeling of being full. Several medicines are used to treat functional dyspepsia; proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) reduce stomach acid, and prokinetics accelerate stomach emptying. There is no clear evidence that one medicine is more effective than another. Although these are considered safe, a few people have side effects. The most common side effects are headache, tummy (abdominal) pain, bloating, diarrhoea and feeling sick (nausea). Long‐term use of PPIs has been associated with infectious diarrhoea (inflammation of the stomach and small intestine), bone fracture and bacterial overgrowth. Therefore, we need to know whether these medications are effective and safe for people with indigestion.

Mosapride for functional dyspepsia: a systematic review

Bibliographic details: Wu Z Y, Wang Y P, Chao Z.  Mosapride for functional dyspepsia: a systematic review. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2006; 6(11): 790-803

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Summaries for consumers

Acupuncture for treating functional dyspepsia

Functional dyspepsia (FD) has been a worldwide gastric disorder. More effective therapies are needed with fewer adverse effects than are seen with conventional medications. In the East, acupuncture has been recognized for a long time as a positive therapy for the treatment of functional gastric disorders. To date, no robust evidence on its efficacy and safety has been found. The evidence obtained has overwhelmingly supported no significance of acupuncture compared with medications and superiority of acupuncture compared with sham acupuncture in FD treatment; however, the low quality of evidence obtained has not permitted a robust conclusion concerning the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in the treatment of FD.

Proton pump inhibitors for functional dyspepsia

Acid suppression is a possible treatment for functional dyspepsia (indigestion), which is recurring pain over the stomach, bloating, burping or the feeling of being full. Several medicines are used to treat functional dyspepsia; proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) reduce stomach acid, and prokinetics accelerate stomach emptying. There is no clear evidence that one medicine is more effective than another. Although these are considered safe, a few people have side effects. The most common side effects are headache, tummy (abdominal) pain, bloating, diarrhoea and feeling sick (nausea). Long‐term use of PPIs has been associated with infectious diarrhoea (inflammation of the stomach and small intestine), bone fracture and bacterial overgrowth. Therefore, we need to know whether these medications are effective and safe for people with indigestion.

Smoking: Nicotine replacement therapy

Nicotine is a potentially addictive substance. Most smokers experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they stop smoking suddenly. Nicotine replacement therapy can relieve the symptoms and help people to stay away from cigarettes. Quitting smoking is usually especially difficult in the first week. The body doesn’t get its usual dose of nicotine, and this can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, feeling down, and a craving for cigarettes. Many people find it harder to concentrate, and are hungrier than usual. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can reduce these withdrawal symptoms.

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Terms to know

Abdominal Pain
Sensation of discomfort, distress, or agony in the abdominal region.
Bloating
A swelling or feeling of fullness in the abdomen.
Digestion
The process of breaking down food into substances the body can use for energy, tissue growth, and repair.
Stomach
An organ that is part of the digestive system. The stomach helps digest food by mixing it with digestive juices and churning it into a thin liquid.

More about Dyspepsia

Photo of an adult

See Also: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Pyrosis, Peptic Ulcer

Other terms to know: See all 4
Abdominal Pain, Bloating, Digestion

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