Dyspepsia is also known as indigestion. The condition is definitely the most common among all of the conditions affecting the intestines. In the United States, 20% of all people suffer from indigestion, but only half of them do visit a doctor. The very name dyspepsia is not convenient for this condition. Neither the term indigestion suits it any better. But it can be described as a functional disease (functional dyspepsia). Doctors tend to call the disease non-ulcer dyspepsia. The very concept of the functional disease is used when we are discussing illnesses of gastrointestinal tract. The term 'functional' refers either to the muscles of the esophagus, stomach and intestines or to the nerves that inervate the intestinal track. The malfunction of the muscles or the nerves leads to the illness. Additionally the damage of spinal nerves and brain can lead to the dyspepsia as well.
Most gastrointestinal diseases that lead to organ damaging can be diagnosed by certain methods (X-ray, CT scan, microscopy etc.). But, the functional diseases can be revealed only by specific tests (like gastric emptying studies or antro-duodenal motility studies). Unfortunately these tests are not available throughout the world. Therefore the doctors tend to say that functional diseases are those which cannot be seen with the naked eye or the microscope. The difference between functional and non-functional disease may not be so clear. Even functional diseases may be discovered on biochemical or molecular level. Beside dyspepsia there are several other functional diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, non-cardiac chest pain etc.
The symptoms of dyspepsia include the following: pain in the upper part of the abdomen, belching, nausea followed by or without vomiting, gases (the person feels gassy though there is no obvious sign of stomach stretching), the feeling of fullness after a meal in case of small amount of food. Rarely abdominal distention may occur.
The symptoms are induced by food. This is what leads the doctor to suspect that the patient suffers from dyspepsia. Some symptoms such as belching are supposed to be evaluated in detail. This act of releasing the extra gas present in the stomach is quite normal. The excessive gas in the stomach is the cause of discomfort but when a person burps he/ she feels relieved. However if the person burps and the feeling of discomfort does not go away or even makes the situation even worse this may be a sign of something not functioning right within the abdomen. In order to set the definite diagnosis the doctor needs to exclude other organic disease of the intestine tract.