Definitions of Dyspepsia: Time for a Reappraisal
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While many definitions exist, dyspepsia is best considered a symptom complex (not a diagnosis) thought to arise in the upper gastrointestinal tract, unrelated to defecation. The symptom complex includes: upper abdominal/epigastric pain or discomfort, postprandial fullness, bloating, belching, early satiety, anorexia, nausea, retching, vomiting, heartburn and regurgitation. Patients with typical gastroesophageal reflux, biliary colic and irritable bowel syndrome should not be considered to have dyspepsia. After investigations, if a cause of dyspepsia is found, this is 'organic or structural' dyspepsia. If no structural cause is found, this is best called 'functional dyspepsia', subclassified into a) ulcer-like b) dysmotility-like c) reflux-like and d) unspecified dyspepsia. This symptom guided classification should be shifted to the first presentation with uninvestigated dyspepsia, prior to any investigations, to define a clinically useful guide to patient care. As there is considerable symptom overlap, it may be useful to combine together the ulcer and reflux-like groups into an acid-related dyspepsia group. In 1998, another approach would be to screen dyspeptic patients with an H. pylori test and classify them as H. pylori positive and negative dyspepsia.
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