8. Dyspepsia

In the eighth in our series featuring the patient information section from the latest evidence-based guidelines from SIGN, we reproduce the information from SIGN guideline number 68, on dyspepsia.

Example patient information leaflet

The following points may be incorporated into local information materials for patients with dyspepsia.

What is dyspepsia?

Dyspepsia is a general term used to describe discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen. It can be called indigestion. Usually it disappears quite quickly but sometimes it is more persistent.

What can you do about it?

You can go to your chemist who will advise on something to take to relieve the pain. If it continues to trouble you, you should go to see your family doctor.

What can the doctor do?

Dyspepsia can sometimes be caused by any one of several diseases so your doctor will try to find out if you have one of these.

In recent years a bacterium (called Helicobacter pylori) has been shown to contribute to dyspepsia in some patients and your doctor may decide to check whether it is present. This can be done by taking a blood or stool sample or with a breath-test (a simple procedure that involves blowing into small test tubes). While waiting for results, your doctor may prescribe a drug to relieve the pain. If the bacterium is found your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to get rid of it.

If you have other symptoms along with the stomach pain your doctor may consider it is best for you to see a specialist in hospital. At the hospital it may be decided to have a look inside using an endoscope, a camera that is guided through the mouth to the stomach. Depending on what the specialist sees, further treatment may be suggested. If there is no bacterium present and/or nothing untoward can be seen in the stomach this is good news.

In 70% of all patients with dyspepsia no disease can be found. This means it is not a serious complaint but it can still be painful.

Although no medication has proved to be very effective it may be that your doctor will suggest and prescribe one which may help. He or she will also discuss your diet and lifestyle with you and may offer the following suggestions to improve things:

  • Giving up smoking
  • Reducing the amount of alcohol and coffee or tea you drink
  • Avoiding foods which trigger your indigestion
  • Eating a balanced, healthy diet
  • Reducing stress in your life.

A copy of the SIGN dyspepsia guideline can be downloaded from the SIGN website at www.sign.ac.uk, and a patient version of the guideline is being developed.

Sources of further information

British Society of Gastroenterology
3 St Andrews Place
Regent’s Park
London NW1 4LB

Tel: 020 7387 3534

Fax: 020 7487 3734

Email: bsg@mailbox.ulcc.ac.uk

Website: www.bsg.org.uk

Reproduced with permission from: SIGN 68. Dyspepsia – A National Clinical Guideline. Edinburgh: Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network, March 2003. The full guideline can be downloaded from the SIGN website: www.sign.ac.uk

Guidelines in Practice, April 2003, Volume 6(4)
© 2003 MGP Ltd
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