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Understanding stomach bloatedness (Functional Dyspepsia)

Functional dyspepsia (FD) occurs when your upper digestive tract shows symptoms of being upset, pain, or early or prolonged fullness for a month or longer. It is a chronic disorder of sensation and movement (peristalsis) in the upper digestive tract. Peristalsis is the normal downward pumping and squeezing of the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine, which begins after swallowing.

This condition is described as “functional” because there is nothing structurally wrong with the upper digestive area, but bothersome symptoms persist.

The cause of functional dyspepsia is unknown; however, several hypotheses could explain this condition even though none can be consistently associated with it. Excessive acid secretion, inflammation of the stomach or duodenum, food allergies, lifestyle and diet influences, psychological factors, medication side effects (e.g., from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen), and Helicobacter pylori infection have all had their proponents. FD can be confused for several other gastrointestinal conditions, including:

Symptoms of Functional Dyspepsia

The symptoms of FD can vary from person to person, but you may experience:

Management of Functional Dyspepsia by conventional medicine

There are a wide range of treatment options for FD. There’s no known single cause of FD, and your symptoms may range quite significantly from someone else’s, so the types of treatment can differ from person to person. Your doctor may recommend several methods for relieving symptoms of FD.

Some treatment options for FD include:

  • over-the-counter (OTC) medications to be used for a few weeks

  • prescription medications for either short- or long-term use

    • acid-neutralizing medications called H2 receptor blockers

    • acid-blocking medications called proton pump inhibitors

    • gas-relieving medications that include the ingredient simethicone

    • antidepressants such as amitriptyline

    • esophagus-strengthening medications called prokinetic agents

    • stomach-emptying medications such as metoclopramide

    • antibiotics if you have the Helicobacter pylori bacteria in your body

  • psychological interventions

  • diet changes

    • reduce milk, alcohol, caffeine, fatty or fried foods, mint, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and some spices

    • avoid large portions

  • lifestyle adjustments

TCM theory on Functional Dyspepsia

Functional Dyspepsia is regarded as pi man 痞滿 in TCM. As a general rule, abdominal distension is due to an obstruction to the correct movement of the Spleen and the Stomach’s energy. The obstruction itself may be due to the presence of some pathogen, internal or external or due to weakness or stagnation of Qi. [Read how the digestive system is explained in Traditional Chinese medicine] The condition is often caused by

The Stomach and Spleen are the body’s primary control of digestion. This system is in charge of breaking down food into smaller particles, absorbing and transporting nutrients, creating Xue (blood) and Qi (vital energy) from it, then send the waste for further processing. When this system fails to function properly, the improperly digested food can give rise to stagnant Qi and build up toxins. When poorly digested food and fluids get stuck, one may experience bloating, sluggishness, decreased appetite and a puffy face and eyes. [Read more: TCM Dietary Advice] [Read more: How TCM relieves “Gluten allergy”]

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