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What is functional dyspepsia (FD)?

Lawrence S. Friedman, MD
Gastroenterology
The term functional dyspepsia (FD) is used to describe persistent upper abdominal pain or discomfort for which there is no identifiable cause, such as peptic ulcer disease. Symptoms are often triggered by eating but no physical or anatomical cause can be found. Because peptic ulcer disease produces similar symptoms, functional dyspepsia is sometimes called nonulcer dyspepsia.

In most cases, the uncomfortable upper abdominal symptoms appear after eating, but there's no difficulty in swallowing. Sometimes the discomfort begins during the meal, sometimes about half an hour later. It tends to come and go in spurts.

This condition affects about a quarter of the population -- twice as many as have peptic ulcer disease -- and it hits men and women equally. It's responsible for a significant percentage of visits to primary care doctors. Many people suspect they're suffering from ulcers, but are found not to be. The cause of FD is unknown. Even more frustrating, there's no surefire cure.

The first question on most people's minds is "Do I have an ulcer?" It's not an unreasonable question, considering that up to 10% of Americans develop a peptic ulcer at some time in their lives. And it's important to answer it quickly. Ulcers can have serious complications, while FD generally does not. Ulcers can be treated with medications, while in most cases medications don't do much to remedy FD.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.