How Dangerous Is Functional Dyspepsia & Does It Spread?

Functional dyspepsia is a term used for frequent signs and symptoms pertaining to indigestion which have no noticeable or obvious cause. It may cause mild to severe upper abdominal discomfort, belching, bloating, pain, etc. However, the meaning of the term “discomfort” may be different for different people. (1)

How Dangerous Is Functional Dyspepsia?

Functional dyspepsia is not known to produce any serious complications or consequences. However, it may produce certain symptoms which may lead to discomfort in many people, including–

  • A burning sensation in the upper abdomen or just near the lower chest. This burning sensation seems to be relieved by the use of antacids or food
  • Belching
  • Bloating
  • An early feeling of satiety or prolonged feeling of fullness
  • Nausea (1)

The word “discomfort”, however, may mean differently for different people. It is advisable to consult with your doctor on an urgent basis if you see any of the following signs and symptoms-

  • Vomiting with blood in it
  • Stools that look dark or tarry
  • There is a shortness of breath or breathlessness
  • If there is a radiating pain to your jaw, neck or arm
  • If you have been having an unexplained weight loss (1)

Certain factors can increase your risk of developing functional dyspepsia. These factors may include-

  • Being of the female gender
  • Being older in age
  • Smoking
  • Anxiety, stress, depression
  • Having a history of physical or sexual abuse during childhood
  • Random use of over the counter pain medications like aspirin and ibuprofen (1)

Does Functional Dyspepsia Spread?

Functional dyspepsia does not spread to other organs or parts of the body. But it may increase in its intensity if proper lifestyle and dietary changes are not followed. Some foods and lifestyle factors have been seen to be affecting your functional dyspepsia. Some factors may improve your symptoms while others may worsen it further.

Some lifestyle and dietary changes that may improve your symptoms of functional dyspepsia are-

  • Consider eating smaller, more frequent meals. Keeping the stomach empty for long may sometimes trigger functional dyspepsia. When you starve, there is the only acid in your stomach and it may make you feel sick, thus triggering your symptoms. Try to fill in between meals with a small snack like fruit. Try to avoid large, full meals at one time. (2)
  • Identify the factors that trigger or worsen your symptoms and try to avoid them. Some most common triggers are fatty foods, hot and spicy foods, foods high in acid content like tomatoes and citrus fruits, carbonated or aerated drinks, caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and tobacco chewing, etc. (2)
  • Try to chew your food more slowly and completely. Fast chewing may result in swallowing of excess air, which may then trigger symptoms like belching and burping, stomach cramps, etc. (2)
  • Try to reduce, eliminate or manage stress and anxiety. These factors are known to trigger and worsen functional dyspepsia. Use techniques like yoga, meditation, massage, and other relaxing therapies to soothe your chaotic mind (2)

Alternative medicines like herbal supplements may help in some cases. Although there is no evidence that these treatment methods alone can cure functional dyspepsia, they are worth giving a try and can surely be combined with conventional treatment methods to reap their benefits. However, it is always advisable to consult with your doctor before starting on any herbal supplements or any other alternative treatment methods. Herbal supplements that are believed to improve symptoms of functional dyspepsia are peppermint, caraway, milk thistle, lemon balm, licorice, chamomile, etc. (2)

Conclusion

Functional dyspepsia is not known to cause any serious complications or consequences. However, if left untreated or a failure to follow the lifestyle and dietary changes to treat the same may result in an increase in the intensity of the symptoms of this condition. Functional dyspepsia does not spread to other parts of the body.

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