Dyspepsia is a common condition and usually describes a group of symptoms rather than one predominant symptom. These symptoms include:
- Belly pain or discomfort.
- Feeling uncomfortably full after eating.
- Loss of appetite.
- Burping up food or liquid (regurgitation).
Most people will experience some symptoms of dyspepsia within their lifetimes.
Common causes of dyspepsia include:
- Burped-up stomach juices and gas (regurgitation or reflux) caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or a hiatal hernia.
- A disorder that affects movement of food through the intestines, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
- Peptic (stomach) ulcer or duodenal ulcer.
- An inability to digest milk and dairy products (lactose intolerance).
- Gallbladder pain (biliary colic) or inflammation (cholecystitis).
- Anxiety or depression.
- Side effects of caffeine, alcohol, or medicines. Examples of medicines that may cause dyspepsia are aspirin and similar drugs, antibiotics, steroids, digoxin, and theophylline.
- Swallowed air.
- Stomach cancer.
You can make changes to your lifestyle to help relieve your symptoms of dyspepsia. Here are some things to try:
- Change your eating habits.
- It's best to eat several small meals instead of two or three large meals.
- After you eat, wait 2 to 3 hours before you lie down. Late-night snacks aren't a good idea.
- Chocolate, mint, and alcohol can make dyspepsia worse. They relax the valve between the esophagus and the stomach.
- Spicy foods, foods that have a lot of acid (like tomatoes and oranges), and coffee can make dyspepsia worse in some people. If your symptoms are worse after you eat a certain food, you may want to stop eating that food to see if your symptoms get better.
- Do not smoke or chew tobacco.
- If you get dyspepsia at night, raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by putting the frame on blocks or placing a foam wedge under the head of your mattress. (Adding extra pillows does not work.)
- Do not wear tight clothing around your middle.
- Lose weight if you need to. Losing just 5 to 10 pounds can help.
Treatment depends on what is causing the problem. If no specific cause is found, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms with medicine.