What is Functional Dyspepsia?

What is Functional Dyspepsia?

Functional dyspepsia is a condition with symptoms of stomach pain, burning, fullness, bloating, or inability to eat a typical meal. With functional dyspepsia, no evidence of structural disease is seen on tests.

About 10 to 20 percent of individuals who seek care for digestive issues are diagnosed with functional dyspepsia.

Types of Functional Dyspepsia

Types of Functional Dyspepsia

There are two main subtypes of functional dyspepsia.

  • Epigastric pain syndrome (EPS) is associated with upper abdominal pain and burning sensation.
  • Postprandial distress syndrome (PDS) symptoms include bothersome fullness too soon after or during a meal, bloating, nausea, and the inability to eat a regular-sized meal.

Please note that your symptoms may not fall into these categories.

Signs & Symptoms of Functional Dyspepsia


The signs and symptoms of functional dyspepsia can be sporadic. However, to make the diagnosis, you must have consecutive symptoms for at least three months with the time of onset at least six months prior to diagnosis.

Symptoms of functional dyspepsia include:

  • Bothersome epigastric pain in the upper abdomen, just under the ribcage
  • Bothersome epigastric burning in the upper abdomen, just under the ribcage
  • Bothersome fullness after eating, which can affect even usual activities
  • Inability to eat a regular-sized meal
  • Feeling full quickly
  • Bloating
  • Nausea but without vomiting

Several digestive conditions share symptoms with functional dyspepsia

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) vs. Functional Dyspepsia

Both conditions share common symptoms like pain and burning. However, GERD is defined by an abnormal acid level in the esophagus. This may be seen on an upper endoscopy or with stomach acid testing. The symptoms of GERD include reflux and heartburn.

Patients with functional dyspepsia may also have heartburn, but this is not a traditional symptom. These conditions may coexist. Functional dyspepsia may be more related to meals and have symptoms of bloating, belching, or nausea.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) vs. Functional Dyspepsia

Both conditions share symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea. Functional dyspepsia symptoms involve the stomach, whereas Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects the colon. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is typically related to a change in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea, and changes in abdominal pain with bowel movements. Functional dyspepsia may have changes in symptoms, including pain and fullness related to eating.

Peptic Ulcer Disease vs. Functional Dyspepsia

Though both conditions share many symptoms, peptic ulcer disease is characterized by the visualization of an ulcer and inflammation of the stomach lining on upper endoscopy. Peptic ulcer disease may be related to a bacterial infection known as Helicobacter Pylori or the use of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, etc.

What Causes Functional Dyspepsia?

What Causes Functional Dyspepsia?

The cause of functional dyspepsia is unclear. Still, there are risk factors and symptoms that you should be aware of.

  • Visceral Hypersensitivity: Individuals whose nervous systems react more strongly to stress and anxiety may have visceral hypersensitivity. In people with visceral hypersensitivity, nerves in the digestive tract may have increased sensitivity, making natural expansion and contraction of the digestive tract uncomfortable.
  • Impaired stomach accommodation or emptying: Stomach muscles are supposed to relax and expand to accommodate food passed into the small intestine. But in some individuals, this mechanism is impaired, leading to a consistent feeling of being full. The signals telling the stomach to empty food into the small intestine could also be damaged.
  • Helicobacter pylori (H pylori): Affecting about 30% to 40% of people in the United States, Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) is a bacteria that infects the stomach. H pylori may cause chronic inflammation and erode the mucous lining in the stomach. Some people with functional dyspepsia improve after being treated for H. pylori.

Risk Factors

Risk Factors

A few risk factors may increase the risk of developing functional dyspepsia. These include:

  • Being female
  • History of anxiety or depression
  • History of abuse
  • History of H. pylori infection
  • Using tobacco products
Get Care

Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Functional Dyspepsia Care

Living with functional dyspepsia can be frustrating and painful. If you have persistent symptoms, schedule an appointment with a NewYork-Presbyterian care team who will support you, assess your symptoms, and formulate a treatment plan to suit your needs.

Call us and make an appointment to see what we can do for you.