Functional dyspepsia is the presence of recurring indigestion symptoms with no clear cause. The symptoms include feelings of fullness with even a small meal, and a burning or gnawing sensation in the stomach area around the upper abdomen which can occur at any time, not just meal times.
Functional dyspepsia disrupts all aspects of life and is common in Australia, affecting around 1 in 10 people, and more women than men. It is also referred to as nonulcer dyspepsia or nonulcer stomach pain, and is the most common form of discomfort to the upper abdominal area.
Discomfort and pain to the chest or upper abdominal area may have a diverse range of potential causes. Conditions of the heart and respiratory system should be ruled out first, and if pain is acute or there is any doubt, medical assistance should be sought immediately.
The symptoms of functional dyspepsia can be intermittent, long lasting, and may include:
Functional dyspepsia is divided into two common presentations, based on symptoms and in the absence of any another condition providing an explanation:
Postprandial distress syndrome - where feeling full and/or unable to eat after a small meal, often resulting in discomfort, nutritional deficiencies and weight loss.
Epigastric pain syndrome - burning in the mid-upper abdomen of 1 day per week in the past 3 months, for at least 6 months, not necessarily after eating. May be relieved by eating.
It is common for functional dyspepsia to be present alongside IBS, and GORD/GERD with symptom overlap, making teasing out the diagnosis difficult.
What causes functional dyspepsia in Australia? The statistics are similar to the rest of the western world with up to one third of the population experiencing recurrent gastrointestinal symptoms without signs of structural change to the oesophagus, stomach or upper intestines. A single cause for functional dyspepsia is unclear, however there are a number of risk factors known to contribute to its development:
Research has found people with the ‘atopic triad’ have a defective barrier of the skin and upper and lower respiratory tracts.
These genetic alterations cause a loss of function of filaggrin (filament aggregating protein), which is a protein in the skin that normally breaks down to create natural moisturisation and protect the skin from penetration by pathogens and allergens.
Filaggrin mutations are found in approximately 30 percent of people with atopic dermatitis, and also predispose people to asthma, allergic rhinitis (hayfever), keratosis pilaris (dry rough patches and bumps on the skin), and ichthyosis vulgaris (a chronic condition which causes thick, dry, scaly skin.)If one parent carries this genetic alteration, there is a 50 percent chance their child will develop atopic symptoms. And that risk increases to 80 percent if both parents are affected.
The connection between the gut microbiome and skin health is complex, however, research has found the microbiota contributes to the development, persistence, and severity of atopic dermatitis through immunologic, metabolic and neuroendocrine pathways.
Deficiency of Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFA) has been linked with the increased incidence of atopic dermatitis, along with the inability for the body to efficiently metabolise EFA’s to gamma linoleic acids (GLA) and arachidonic acids (AA).
Changing weather conditions can certainly aggravate eczema symptoms, but the triggers are subject to change among individuals.
Mould exposure and susceptibility to mould can cause Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), of which dermatitis is a manifestation.
Conventional treatment of functional dyspepsia in Australia may take a number of consultations to establish a diagnosis, due to overlap of symptoms with other conditions. To establish this diagnosis, your GP will review your symptoms and make a physical examination. Various blood tests, H. pylori testing and X-ray may be required.
Initially ruling out heart or respiratory conditions, you may also require an endoscopy, where a small, flexible camera is passed down the oesophagus into the stomach and upper small intestines. An endoscopy may identify damage to the oesophagus, stomach or upper intestines indicating conditions such as gastric or peptic ulcers, oesophagitis or GORD/GERD. An endoscopy must be conducted if any of the following are present:
Once functional dyspepsia has been identified, medication may be prescribed, such as:
These medications have side effects and can contribute long term to poor digestion, nutrient depletion and disrupted gut flora, triggering other digestive symptoms, and are generally not recommended long-term.
Other treatment strategies include:
A 2016 study identified that current conventional treatments for functional dyspepsia are ‘largely unsatisfactory’. This is why many people with functional dyspepsia are looking for long-term, natural solutions to their digestive discomfort.
Functional dyspepsia natural treatment can be very effective, safe and long lasting. Using evidence based methods within a holistic framework, our functional medicine dyspepsia specialists have a unique approach to all digestive conditions. The first step involves isolating the root cause of the symptoms with detailed investigations of:
Functional testing may help identify pathogens, parasites and infections, such as H. pylori using state of the art pathology labs. These tests may include:
Other functional testing may be required to identify:
Natural treatments for indigestion will vary according to the underlying causes, but may include:
At Melbourne Functional Medicine, our functional dyspepsia specialists are familiar with all kinds of digestive disorders and have effective, natural and safe treatment strategies to help you find the relief you are looking for. All natural treatments for indigestion are personalised to treat the whole person, and will consider and address other conditions or symptoms you may be experiencing.
Our unique 6 month program gives you ongoing support from your own practitioner and health coach team to get you well again. Making the changes necessary to improve health can be hard, so having your own health coach to inspire, educate, empower and support you can help you achieve wellness quicker and easier than doing so alone. It is this revolutionary approach to your health that gets results for many Australians like you. Read our success stories for more information.
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Causes of indigestion can range from a variety of digestive disorders, side effects of medications, stress, food intolerances, disrupted gut flora, slow transit time of food through the digestive system, infections and parasites.
If symptoms are ongoing and no obvious cause is identified, then this may be termed functional dyspepsia.
Indigestion is a broad term describing discomfort, pain or burning sensations to the mid-upper abdomen.
It can vary from person to person, depending on the underlying cause, and may include other symptoms such as nausea, burping, belching, vomiting, lack of appetite, feeling full after eating only a small amount.
Depending on what is causing the indigestion, the treatment will vary. Indigestion can be due to a number of digestive conditions such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD/GERD), functional dyspepsia, IBS, SIBO, food intolerances, parasitic infections, and microbiome disturbances.
Short term interventions that may bring relief are ginger tea, chamomile tea, lemon balm tea, or slippery elm powder, depending on what is causing your discomfort. While these can provide short term relief, treating the root cause is what will often resolve indigestion for good.
Determining which treatments are suitable is best done by a functional medicine functional dyspepsia specialist practitioner, who will investigate in detail and treat the root cause, not just the symptoms for effective natural treatment of functional dyspepsia and indigestion.
Burping after eating can mean gas is accumulating in the stomach and upper digestive system. This accumulation of gas may be due to a variety of factors, including:
Indigestion is a general term for upper digestive discomfort, or pain and can be related to all of the above digestive conditions.
Determining the cause of your burping may require the help of a digestive specialist practitioner. Detailed case history taking, state of the art functional testing and years of experience make Melbourne Functional Medicine one of Australia’s functional dyspepsia and digestive natural health specialists. See here for more information on the digestive conditions we can help you with.
Eating smaller meals, at least 3 hours prior to laying down may help reduce indigestion. Depending on the cause of the indigestion, short term relief may be found with the following natural remedies for indigestion:
Laying with the head elevated, with either a block under the head end of the bed, or under the mattress may help.
Seeking the help of a functional dyspepsia or digestive health functional medicine practitioner to identify the cause of indigestion symptoms will enable a clear treatment strategy for long term relief.
It can be hard to know when stress is affecting digestion, as often we don’t recognise we are experiencing chronic stress when our day to day life is filled with stressors.
Pressures of money, work, family, noisy or toxic environments, driving in traffic, and unexpected events - and any number of things that affect us everyday can cause us to become accustomed to a chronic low level of stress.
When we are chronically stressed, our fight and flight nervous system (called the sympathetic nervous system, or SNS) is activated.
When activated, the SNS state assumes that we are running away from a perceived threat (like a bear or tiger), and diverts the body’s resources toward an emergency escape by increasing blood flow to muscles, eyes and our brain, while inhibiting processes to do with digesting food, such as making saliva and digestive juices and moving food through the digestive tract.
This leads to a slowing down of digestion that causes the symptoms of indigestion/heartburn.
Exercise is useful in stimulating the digestive system to move food through the intestines (peristalsis), helping waste removal, and improving bowel movement frequency. Increasing the frequency of our bowel movements, particularly when the digestive system is sluggish (called ‘slow motility’) can be helpful for improving indigestion.
This is especially the case with those who experience ongoing constipation which can be a cause of indigestion. Constipation or slow motility can affect the digestive system in many ways by altering the makeup and species of our gut flora, as they are very sensitive to alterations of pH.
This can then create conditions such as reflux, indigestion, functional dyspepsia, IBS, SIBO and more, if left untreated.
Other measures that can help digestion are:
Functional dyspepsia could be described as indigestion pain in the chest, or upper abdomen that occurs without any apparent cause. It is sometimes referred to as nonulcer stomach pain. Symptoms usually include:
Once all other explanations have been ruled out, such as cardiac pain, acid reflux (GORD/GERD), gastritis, IBS, IBD, SIBO, seeking a functional dyspepsia natural treatment will help to resolve symptoms for good.
Functional medicine treatment of functional dyspepsia will identify the root cause of the symptoms and treat them accordingly. Natural remedies for indigestion and digestive disorders can be safe, effective and give you back your health.
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