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Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Sep;9(9):769-75. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2011.05.016. Epub 2011 May 20.

Common symptoms and stressors among individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.



We evaluated symptoms and stressful life events over a 1-year period in a population-based sample of persons with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).


Participants from the University of Manitoba IBD Research Registry (n = 704) completed 5 surveys, given every 3 months for 1 year (552 completed all the surveys). Respondents were asked to indicate the specific gastrointestinal and other symptoms, if any, they had experienced in the previous 3-month period and to document any significant stressors experienced. The Manitoba IBD Index was used to categorize active versus inactive disease.


In any 3-month period, participants with Crohn's disease, compared with those with ulcerative colitis (UC), reported more diarrhea (63% vs 38%), fatigue (54% vs 33%), abdominal pain (47% vs 32%), aching joints (42% vs 29%), painful joints (24% vs 16%), fever or night sweats (24% vs 15%), nausea/vomiting (18% vs 7%), and reductions in appetite (19% vs 11%) (P < .001 for each symptom). Individuals with ulcerative colitis complained more of stool mucous or blood than those with Crohn's disease (27% vs 17%; P < .001). In periods of inactive disease, participants still experienced symptoms such as aching joints (17%), fatigue (15%), diarrhea (13%), or abdominal pain (9%). In any 3-month period, approximately 50% experienced some type of stress; family stress was the most commonly reported form, followed by work or school and financial stress.


Diarrhea and fatigue are the 2 most common symptoms of individuals with IBD. Those with inactive disease still report symptoms. Almost 50% of participants reported significant stress in any 3-month period, but the primary types were everyday life stressors more so than health-related stress.

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