What is Non-Ulcer Dyspepsia?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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Non-ulcer dyspepsia is the term used to describe a gastrointestinal upset that can’t be ascribed to a specific cause. Patients often show symptoms very similar to those suffering with peptic ulcers, but when their stomach is examined, no ulcer, gastritis or any other obvious physical cause can be found. It’s generally the most common kind of dyspepsia among those with recurring episodes.

The symptoms of non-ulcer dyspepsia can vary quite a bit, but the most common symptom is a sense of abdominal discomfort or pain. Heartburn, bloating, gas and nausea are also relatively common. Patients can sometimes have more concentrated symptoms immediately after eating, and some individuals have so much discomfort that they may have difficulty keeping their food down. People tend to have periods where their symptoms are dormant followed by periods where they may become active. In cases where dyspepsia is especially severe with frequent episodes, it can sometimes be debilitating.


Doctors are still generally mystified about all the exact causes of non-ulcer dyspepsia, but most think that different issues are responsible in different cases. One common cause is probably infection with the germ H. pylori, which is a very common cause of peptic ulcers. Some patients think that particular foods are causing their problems, and certain drug side effects can also be a factor. In many situations, non-ulcer dyspepsia may simply be misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome, which can cause similar symptoms in a certain number of cases and may not always be easy to distinguish from other gastrointestinal ailments.

If a doctor suspects non-ulcer dyspepsia, they will often do several tests to exclude other disorders before the diagnosis is confirmed. These may include blood tests, x-rays or probing the digestive tract with an endoscope to see if there are any noticeable problem areas. If they can’t find a specific cause, they will diagnose non-ulcer dyspepsia. Once this diagnosis is made, many patients are generally relieved, because they may have been concerned that something more serious could be happening to them.

Treatment options often involve drugs to reduce acid production in the stomach and improve overall digestive regularity. Antibiotics are occasionally given to help with any possible H. pylori infection, and some individuals may also need anti-nausea drugs to help keep their food down. Sometimes, these treatments aren’t really a cure for non-ulcer dyspepsia, but because the symptoms tend to come and go on their own anyway, relief is often sufficient for many patients.


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