Dyspepsia

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Topic Overview

Dyspepsia is a common condition and usually describes a group of symptoms rather than one predominant symptom. These symptoms include:

  • Belly pain or discomfort.
  • Bloating.
  • Feeling uncomfortably full after eating.
  • Nausea.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Heartburn.
  • Burping up food or liquid (regurgitation).
  • Burping.

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.

Credits

Current as of: August 11, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine