Grouping of patients based on a predominant dyspeptic symptom is frequently employed in management strategies for dyspepsia. Such subdivision, however, suggests that dyspeptic symptom patterns are constant over time.Objective:
To investigate the behavior of symptoms over time and to study the effects of diagnostic procedures and treatment on the pattern and severity of dyspeptic symptoms.Methods:
Patients with persistent dyspeptic symptoms completed a validated questionnaire at regular time intervals as part of a clinical trial in primary care. Based on predominant symptoms, patients were classified into ulcer-like dyspepsia, reflux-like dyspepsia, dysmotility-like dyspepsia, and unspecific dyspepsia according to the Rome II criteria.Results:
Questionnaires were returned at baseline, 1, 3, and 6 months by 185, 172, 169, and 170 patients, respectively. At baseline, 35% of patients reported predominantly reflux-like dyspepsia, 34% had ulcer-like dyspepsia, 16% had dysmotility-like dyspepsia, and in 15% symptoms were not specific. During the 6-month follow-up period, only 35% of patients kept the same predominant symptom. Symptom (in)stability was not dependent on diagnostic procedures or on therapy with proton pump inhibitors, H2-receptor antagonists, prokinetics, or antacids.Conclusion:
In the majority of dyspeptic patients, symptoms change continuously as time goes on. Symptom instability is not influenced by diagnostic procedures or therapy. Thus, there is little sense in symptom-based management of dyspepsia in primary care.