Common Digestive Conditions

Functional Dyspepsia

What is Functional Dyspepsia (FD)?

Functional Dyspepsia (FD) is a common functional condition that affects the upper part of the digestive system. 50% of people who have IBS also have FD.

How common is FD?

FD is not talked about on social media or the lay press and is often poorly recognised outside of the field of Gastroenterology. However, FD is very common and affects as many as 1 in 5 adults (more common than IBS), and is a little more common in women than men. 

What are the symptoms of FD?

The main symptoms of FD, according to the Rome IV criteria are:

  • A feeling of unpleasant / bothersome fullness after eating (enough to impact on normal activities)
  • Feeling full after eating a small amount of food. This is called early satiety (enough to prevent you finishing a normal sized meal)
  • Pain or burning in the upper abdomen (enough to impact on normal activities)

Other common symptoms are nausea, excessive belching and a sense of bloating after eating, sometimes with visible distension in the upper part of the abdomen.

Woman lying on sofa looking sick in the living room. Beautiful young woman lying on bed and holding hands on her stomach. Woman having painful stomachache on bed, Menstrual period

How severe are the symptoms of FD? 

For some people the symptoms are a minor inconvenience – a bit of bloating after eating or some occasional nausea. However, for other people the symptoms can be very problematic and have a hugely negative impact on their quality of life. 

What tests should be carried out? 

You should discuss your symptoms with your GP in the first instance, and they may refer you to a specialist for some further tests. It is important to realise that having normal tests does not mean that you do not have a problem, it simply means that you do not have an ‘organic’ condition. 

What Causes Functional Dyspepsia?  

As with IBS, factors that seem to play a role in the development of FD include stress, previous infection, visceral hypersensitivity, altered functioning of the Gut-Brain axis, low grade inflammation.

Our Advice 

If you don’t already have a diagnosis seek an appointment with your GP/Family Doctor and keep a food and symptom diary in the meantime. We recommend eating less but more often i.e. “little and often”, eating slowly, and avoiding cold fluids. Spicy foods and alcohol should be kept to a minimum.

If you do have a diagnosis of FD we recommend following a personalised diet plan developed by a Registered dietitian. Regular exercise, quality sleep and managing stress all play an important role in reducing FD symptoms. Visit our Self Care section for some wellbeing tips. Some patients may also be advised to take medication.

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