Managing Functional Dyspepsia: This Gastroenterologist Shares Tips

Portrait of Dr Wai Leong Quan
Dr Wai Leong Quan

May 16th, 2019· 5 min read

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Your digestive system is complex and important for your health and biological stability. It is made up of various components, and movements that follow sophisticated natural processes. Sometimes, however, these processes can get compromised quite abruptly due to problems like functional dyspepsia.

Dr Quan Wai Leong recently answered a Human reader question about functional dyspepsia and gastritis. Here are a few key takeaways about managing the condition in a safe and effective manner.

What is functional dyspepsia?

a woman clutching her stomach

Functional dyspepsia is medically described as a chronic disorder of sensation and movement (peristalsis) in the upper digestive tract. Symptoms include feeling full very easily, epigastric pain, and/or a burning sensation.

Some doctors believe it is connected to upper gastrointestinal inflammation and problems with gut movement. This may be caused by an infection, allergen, or a change in the microbes in our digestive tracts that help us to digest food. A minority of patients may pass motion less often than a person without functional dyspepsia.

In a way, this condition is similar to migraine headaches because the symptoms have no structural abnormalities. [1]

To get a diagnosis of functional dyspepsia, other related conditions have to be excluded using tests such as an upper endoscopy, ultrasound, or CT scan.

Fortunately, it can be treated

a doctor in a coat

Functional dyspepsia can be effectively treated, especially if there are no other conditions found with similar symptoms. Stress management techniques, smaller portions, and avoiding fatty, fried, or spicy foods may help sufferers. It is generally considered a benign condition with no risk of leading to something more severe. [1]

But if symptoms persist for more than two weeks, do get medical help if you haven’t already

a doctor writing on a clipboard

If symptoms last longer than two weeks, it is best to see your doctor for a thorough checkup, especially if there is no improvement after over the counter medication and if it is beginning to interfere with your daily life.

There are other factors that might cause concern

a man with an unbuckled belt taking pills

If you are over 40, have a family history of colon cancer or digestive problems, drink alcohol or smoke, or are regularly taking painkillers, you may want to have your digestive condition assessed by an expert. [2]

Watch out for severe symptoms that require urgent attention

a man clutching his stomach

You may need to urgently consult your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms such as prolonged or severe pain, recurrent vomiting with altered blood, black 'tarry' stools, difficulty swallowing, or a loss of appetite. These may point to worse conditions.

What is the difference between gastritis and functional dyspepsia?

a person clutching their stomach while in pyjamas

A gastroscopy or an ultrasound may not reveal any specific cause for the symptoms of functional dyspepsia. However, gastritis (that many people call ‘indigestion’) can be identified by tests.

Gastritis is characterised by an inflamed stomach lining. [3] It appears as red, inflamed patches with an increased number of inflammatory cells when observed closely.

So what causes gastritis?

a woman smoking in the sunlight

There are various causes of gastritis, from smoking and alcohol intake to painkiller usage and more. Sometimes, it can even be caused by a bacteria called Helicobacter Pylori. [4]

For most healthy people, common digestive conditions such as functional dyspepsia or gastritis are considered minor issues and can be treated fairly easily. Sometimes, however, the symptoms you experience may be an indication of something more severe. Be sure to consult your doctor and get a proper evaluation if things get out of hand.

Would you like to ask any related health questions?

You can Ask A Doctor right away, or view the complete list of Human Sessions.

I hope that you've found this guide useful, and perhaps gained more insight into the application process. Most of the admissions-related information (admin and logistics wise) can be found on the official NUS Faculty of Dentistry website.

To help yourself out, you should take note of what people look for when they look for a dentist.

This article was written by Dr Wai Leong Quan and published on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. Human medically reviewed the article on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. The last update was made on Friday, 18 September 2020.

Disclaimer: Opinions belong to the author and not to the platform.

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