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Neth J Med. 2008 Jan;66(1):18-22.

Gastrointestinal symptoms are still common in a general Western population.

Author information

1
Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. L.vanKerkhoven@MDL.umcn.nl

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Results from studies conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990 s showed that gastrointestinal symptoms were common among the general population. Meanwhile, lifestyle habits have changed and important treatment options have been introduced. This might have influenced symptom prevalence.

METHODS:

This study aimed to describe the current prevalence of upper and lower gastrointestinal symptoms within the general population. For this purpose, a demographically representative sample of the Dutch population within the city of Nijmegen and surrounding areas was selected after careful comparison with demographic figures from a government demographic database. Participants were invited to fill in a valid self-report questionnaire about gastrointestinal symptoms and prevalence figures were calculated.

RESULTS:

A total of 5000 questionnaires was sent and 1616 (32%) were returned. Of these, 839 (52%) subjects reported having had upper (43%) or lower (38%) gastrointestinal symptoms in the past four weeks. The most prevalent individual symptoms reported were flatulence (47%), abdominal rumbling (40%), bloating (37%), alternating solid and loose stools (31%), belching (25%) and postprandial fullness (25%). People who smoked or used a proton pump inhibitor had an increased risk for reporting upper as well as lower gastrointestinal symptoms (OR 1.99; 95% CI 1.56 to 2.55, and OR 1.37; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.75, respectively for smoking; and OR 3.17; 95% CI 2.17 to 4.72, and OR 2.14; 95% CI 1.49 to 3.08, respectively for PPIs).

CONCLUSION:

Both upper and lower gastrointestinal symptoms are very common in a representative sample of a general Western population.

PMID:
18219063
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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