Medically Reviewed by Dr. David Costa Navarro
What it is and how it manifests itself
Dyspepsia, that is, the difficulty in digesting, is a rather frequent disorder; it is estimated that 20-30% of adults are affected. It is manifested by pain or discomfort in the stomach, which usually appears after meals, often associated with other symptoms such as nausea, early satiety and abdominal bloating.
It is not yet clear whether the onset of this malaise is due to stomach motility disorders, rather than to hypersecretion of gastric juices, to an Helicobacter pylori infection, to eating disorders or to stress. Poor gastric motility with delayed emptying of stomach contents can characterize many dyspeptic symptoms. Food intake, in turn, can get worse but also relieve pain.
Some medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), foxglove, iron and theophylline, can cause or aggravate stomach upset.
What to do
Some simple measures can prove particularly useful and solve, at least in part, the problem. In the presence of digestive disorders, it is therefore advisable to:
- reduce smoking, alcohol, coffee and spicy foods reduce fat, sweets and very hot foods
- avoid excess food in general
- reduce any excess weight
- sleep with your torso raised a few centimeters
- avoid tight belts and busts
- if you occasionally take NSAIDs, suspend them or replace them with paracetamol.
When to take medications
If the ailment is not such as to require medical attention and has recently appeared, if the measures adopted have not proved conclusive, some drugs can be purchased in the pharmacy without a prescription.
In particular, if the symptoms include nocturnal and between meals gastric pain that improves with food intake, it may be useful to take an aluminum or magnesium-based antacid (eg Maalox, Gaviscon, Magnesia) to be taken as needed or 1 to 3 hours after meals and at bedtime.
Instead, in the presence of motility disorders associated with nausea, slow digestion and a sense of swelling, so-called prokinetic drugs should be taken, such as metoclopramide (eg Geffer, Citroplus) and domperidone (eg Digestivo Giuliani, Gastronorm) from 15 to 30 minutes before meals. These drugs facilitate the emptying of the stomach and at the same time exert an anti-nausea effect.
If improvement has been observed after a week of treatment, it can continue for one week. In the event that, after a week of treatment, there has not been a positive response, it is necessary to seek medical attention.
When to seek medical attention
It is always necessary to seek medical attention in case of:
- vomiting with traces of blood and persistent for more than 24 hours
- decreased appetite and weight loss
- persistent deep stomach pain