Dyspepsia is Greek for “bad digestion” and it means chronic or recurrent discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen, often after meals have been consumed. If your doctor finds that your stomach and duodenum are normal and show no signs of ulceration or gastro-oesophageal reflux (heartburn), they are likely to diagnose non-ulcer dyspepsia.

There is no clear difference between dyspeptic symptoms described by those with stomach or duodenal ulcers and those without. When there are no ulcers the condition is called ‘non-ulcer dyspepsia’.

What causes non-ulcer dyspepsia?

Doctors do not know what causes non-ulcer dyspepsia, but they believe there are many causes. It may be caused by:

  • An over-sensitive stomach that reacts badly to some acids and foods
  • A ‘nervous stomach’ where the muscles of the stomach wall become especially tense at times of stress.

What is the treatment for non-ulcer dyspepsia?

Non-ulcer dyspepsia is common and there are medicines available in the pharmacy to help. You should change any part of your lifestyle that makes your symptoms worse.


  • Stop smoking.
  • Lose weight if necessary.
  • Eat more fibre like vegetables, high-fibre breakfast cereals and whole-grain bread.
  • Avoid fatty and fried foods.
  • Avoid hot and spicy foods.
  • Avoid onions and tomatoes if they upset your stomach.
  • Keep caffeinated drinks to a minimum.