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.
What causes it?
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.
How can you care for yourself when you have dyspepsia?
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.
- Avoid foods that make your symptoms worse. These may include chocolate, mint, alcohol, pepper, spicy foods, high-fat foods, or drinks with caffeine in them, such as tea, coffee, colas, or energy drinks. If your symptoms are worse after you eat a certain food, you may want to stop eating it 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.