Gas-Related GI Symptoms Common and Bothersome

Gas-Related GI Symptoms Common and Bothersome


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The vast majority of adults suffer from gas-related GI symptoms on a daily basis, which leads to reduced quality of life and psychological distress, a three-country survey finds.

“I think the most remarkable and surprising finding in our study is that almost all adults in the general population experience some daily gas-related symptoms,” said Dr. Olafur Palsson of the Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in a news release from UEG Week Virtual 2021, where he presented the findings.

Nearly 6,000 adults across the United States, United Kingdom, and Mexico, completed the validated Intestinal Gas Questionnaire (IGQ), which measures the presence and severity of seven gas-related symptoms in the last 24 hours. As part of the online survey, the researchers also collected information on BMI, exercise, emotional wellbeing, and quality of life.

“Demographically, we had about 2,000 people in each country and the total sex distribution was about 50/50 males and females,” Dr. Palsson reported.

The age distribution across countries (18 to 34, 35 to 49, 50 to 64, and 65+) was also “pretty even, except we were not able to sample enough people in the oldest age group in Mexico, so the Mexican sample was a little bit younger,” he noted.

Overall, flatulence was the most frequently reported gas issue, affecting eight out of 10 adults (81%) in a 24-hour period, followed by stomach rumbling (61%), belching (58%) and bad breath (48%), difficult gas evacuation (47%), abdominal distention (40%) and bloating/abdominal pressure (39%); 11% of respondents reported no gas-related symptoms.

On average, respondents reported suffering from three different gas symptoms within the previous 24-hour period. “What is striking is that all seven symptoms were actually quite prevalent in the last 24 hours,” Dr. Palsson told the conference.

Younger people aged 18 to 34 years and 35 to 49 years had the highest overall burden of gas-related symptoms. While there were no statistical differences in symptom burden in the U.S. and the U.K. (for both males and females), people in Mexico, particularly women, had higher scores for all seven gas symptoms and a higher average IGQ total score compared with people in the U.S. and the U.K.

“The reasons for the marked differences in the amount of gas-related symptoms between Mexico and the other countries we surveyed are unknown, and need to be investigated further. Cultural, linguistic, diet or public health factors might affect population levels of gas-related symptoms,” Dr. Palsson said in the news release.

Gas-related symptoms were not correlated with BMI and “modestly negatively” correlated with exercise.

A higher burden of gas-related symptoms correlated significantly with lower physical and mental quality of life and higher life stress, anxiety and depression and more non-GI symptoms.

The survey “clearly reveals that these symptoms affect people’s general wellbeing. Having a high amount of these common intestinal symptoms is associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress, as well as impaired general quality of life,” Dr. Palsson said in the news release.

SOURCE: UEG Week Virtual 2021, presented October 2, 2021.

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