C.A. Fallone, MD, FRCP(C), Division of Gastroenterology, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, QC.
Definition of Dyspepsia
Defining dyspepsia is a somewhat confusing endeavour mainly because the definition itself has varied somewhat over the last few decades. Moreover, the distinction between uninvestigated and investigated dyspepsia is not always clear. Clinically, dyspepsia symptoms must be distinguished from the lower gastrointestinal symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Furthermore, the term dyspepsia is often used synonymously for upper gastrointestinal symptoms, but because most experts feel that dyspepsia must be distinguished from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), it does not represent all upper gastrointestinal symptoms.
The Rome II definition of dyspepsia is the most recent and widely accepted.1 Dyspepsia is defined as a pain or discomfort centred in the upper abdomen. This epigastric discomfort can be associated with other gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, feeling full, nausea, early satiety and heartburn. It is important to note that burning sensation in the epigastrium is not heartburn. Rather, heartburn refers to a burning sensation that originates from the epigastric region and radiates up towards the neck. Heartburn alone is not considered dyspepsia according to this definition.