Dyspepsia is a disease that results in discomfort or pain in the upper part of the digestive tract. It can be acute or recurrent. It can be experienced in different ways, such as indigestion, bloating, tightness, burning, early satiety, etc.
There are many causes of dyspepsia. In the case of acute dyspepsia, it can occur following the consumption of a large meal, alcohol or certain medications (eg: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). For recurrent dyspepsia, the causes include cancer, medications, gastroesophageal reflux disease, slow gastric emptying, and peptic ulcer disease.
During investigations, many patients present with abnormalities such as, for example, motor disturbances, duodenitis,Helicobacter pylori gastritis, lactase deficiency, etc., but treating the abnormality does not resolve the dyspepsia.
Symptoms of dyspepsia may include pain and / or a burning sensation in the upper abdomen, early satiety, nausea, a feeling of fullness, regurgitation and belching. Depending on the cause of the dyspepsia, symptoms may also include decreased appetite, constipation, diarrhea, and gas. Finally, eating may relieve symptoms in some people and increase them in others.
Several symptoms of functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome overlap, so the two conditions can be difficult to tell apart. To be diagnosed with functional dyspepsia, there must be no lesions or other visible changes in the digestive system.
Long-term monitoring is very important in making the diagnosis. One or more of the following symptoms must have been present in the past 3 months:
- Unpleasant feeling of fullness (feeling of heaviness when the stomach is or seems full) after eating
- Feeling of fullness at the start of a meal
- Pain under the ribs, in the upper abdomen
- Burning sensation under the ribs, in the upper abdomen
The manifestation of the first symptoms must also go back at least 6 months before the diagnosis. If you think you are having digestive problems, keep a day-to-day symptom diary and report it to your healthcare professional.
Treatment for dyspepsia usually involves treating the underlying illnesses when they are present. Otherwise, in people with dyspepsia who do not have underlying illnesses, treatment includes clinical follow-up which, among other things, can reassure and educate them about the illness.
People who suffer from dyspepsia may also benefit from the following recommendations:
- Change their way of life
- Have a healthy weight
- Avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
At the nutritional level, dietary recommendations that can help relieve symptoms in individuals with dyspepsia include:
- Observe a balanced diet
- Reduce lipid intake, because they delay gastric emptying
- Reduce the caloric density of food
- Eat small, frequent meals
- Avoid spices, alcohol and caffeine
Dyspepsia is a disorder of the digestive system whose symptoms can sometimes be relieved or worsened by food, but also not related to food intake. Therefore, nutritional recommendations for dyspepsia should be personalized according to the tolerance and needs of each individual. Finally, diet alone cannot treat dyspepsia and consultation with a healthcare professional is required in order to develop a treatment suited to your personal situation.
- Bouthillier, Lise. January 2019. Diseases of the digestive tract. NUT 2047 Clinical nutrition 2. Montreal: University of Montreal.al.
Article written by:
Marie-Noël Marsan, Nutritionist