What is dyspepsia?
Dyspepsia is not just one symptom, but, a group of symptoms, that may or may not occur together. It comprises of:
- Feeling of fullness and bloating after eating
- Easy satiety during a meal
- Pain in the chest and upper abdomen
- Excessive belching
- Lack of appetite
- Regurgitation of food
- Gastro-Oesophageal reflux disease. Here, the valve between the oesophagus and the stomach is loose, causing food and fluid to regurgitate back into the food pipe, producing symptoms
- Hiatus hernia, where, a small part of the stomach pushes upward, through the diaphragm, adding to the reflux
- Any condition which slows down the movement of food through the intestines, like, Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Gall stones
- Peptic ulcers
- Infection with Helicobacter pylori
- Lactose intolerance
- Stress, Depression, Anxiety
- Excessive intake of alcohol or caffeine
- Drugs like aspirin, steroids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs
- Stomach cancer
- Rule out the serious causes of dyspepsia like stomach cancer or peptic ulcers. Most of the cases of dyspepsia lack any serious underlying cause. This is called Functional Dyspepsia
- Check for Helicobacter pylori infection. If that is the cause, it needs to be treated. The standard protocol is a combination of three drugs, like Lansoprazole, Amoxycillin and Clarithromycin (LAC) as advised by your doctor
- Drugs like Histamine H2 blockers (Rantac), Proton pump inhibitors (Pantoprazole) and Prokinetic medicines (Perinorm) give relief to a certain extent
- Treatment of anxiety and depression helps to ease dyspepsia
- Lifestyle changes are a big must. Dyspepsia is aggravated by stress, so, do find ways to deal with the stress, like counseling, deep breathing exercises, and mindful meditation
- Dietary precautions are a must, too
Diet and lifestyle changes for dyspepsia
- Eat small, frequent meals, at regular intervals.
- Wait for a couple of hours after a meal, before sleeping. Lying down on a full stomach increases chances of reflux.
- Avoid foods that make your symptoms worse.
- Eat probiotic yogurt as it has been proven to be beneficial to patients of functional dyspepsia. It increases the amount of good bacteria in the stomach that help to maintain the integrity of the stomach lining.
- Eat fresh, home-cooked food that has a large portion of alkaline fruits and vegetables.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Stop smoking.
- Elevate the head of your bed by a few inches, to prevent reflux. You can either use a wedge pillow, or place a block under the legs of your bed, at the head.
- Wear loose clothes, especially around the abdomen.
- Lose a little weight.
- Eat slowly, and chew your food properly. Eating too fast makes you swallow air that increases bloating.
- Don’t eat spicy and oily foods.
- Avoid eating out, too often.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, acidic food and citrus fruits too often. Alcohol and chocolate relax the valve between the oesophagus and the stomach, causing reflux. Acidic foods irritate the lining of the stomach.
- Avoid dairy products, if you are lactose intolerant. Have almond milk or soy milk instead.
- Don’t keep a gap longer than 4 hours between meals. This allows acid to build up, and irritates the lining of the stomach.
- Don’t eat late at night.
- Don’t eat when you feel stressed.
- Don’t drink water during the meal, as this will dilute the digestive juices.
- Don’t lie down immediately after a meal.
- Don’t wear clothes that are too tight at the abdomen. This increases reflux.
Keeping in mind these small tips will help you tame the beast of acidity for good over the years and minimize the need for medicines.