What Is Dyspepsia? - Definition, Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:00 Introduction to Dyspepsia
  • 1:06 Causes of Dyspepsia
  • 2:14 Prevention of Dyspepsia
  • 3:22 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

In this lesson, we'll learn what causes dyspepsia, also known as indigestion. We'll also explore what the typical symptoms are and examine what treatment options are available.

Introduction to Dyspepsia

You know how you feel after Thanksgiving dinner, when you feel overfull and want to lie on the couch, watch football, and unbutton your pants? You may be experiencing dyspepsia. Dyspepsia is just the fancy medical term for indigestion, something we've all experienced from time to time. Typical symptoms are things you are likely familiar with, like a stomachache above or around the navel, bloating, nausea, heartburn, burping, and regurgitation, none of which feel very good. You might also have loss of appetite, a feeling of being 'stuffed' after eating, or a feeling of fullness after only a small amount of food. When you experience dyspepsia, the stomach and first part of the small intestine function abnormally, causing discomfort. Here's a closer look at what's going on inside you with a comparison between normal and dyspeptic:


Normal gastrointestinal functioning is shown on the left side of the diagram. A leaky valve between the esophagus and stomach, shown on the right, can cause discomfort and is commonly referred to as heartburn.

Causes of Dyspepsia

Unfortunately, sometimes you just have an upset tummy. While some of the causes of dyspepsia are unavoidable based on your current health conditions, others are preventable. Some of the common causes of dyspepsia include swallowed air, caffeine, medications, or alcohol. Additional causes can include anxiety or depression, a stomach ulcer, gallbladder inflammation or pain, an intestinal disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome, a reflux disease in which stomach acid moves back up the esophagus, or even stomach cancer.

Other diseases may also be associated with dyspepsia, including diabetes, thyroid disease, and hyperparathyroidism (overactive parathyroid glands). Additionally, it's hypothesized that sensory and motor nerves around the stomach and small intestine may abnormally detect and process messages from the rest of the body, resulting in dyspepsia symptoms.

Your doctor can help assess what is causing your dyspepsia. Testing for other gastrointestinal diseases often helps narrow down what the problem is, and there are a number of tests a medical professional can run to identify what the likely cause of dyspepsia is.

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