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Prevalence of gastro-esophageal reflux-type symptoms in IBS

A study in the latest issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology investigates the prevalence of gastro-esophageal reflux-type symptoms in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome in the community.

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastro-esophageal reflux-type symptoms (GERS) are highly prevalent in the general population, and the 2 appear to be related.

Dr Alexander Ford and colleagues from the United Kingdom conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the prevalence of GERS in individuals with IBS, and to quantify the overlap between the two disorders.

MEDLINE, EMBASE, and EMBASE Classic were searched to identify population-based studies reporting the prevalence of IBS and GERS in adults, defined using a specific symptom-based criteria or a questionnaire.

The prevalence of IBS and GERS were extracted for all studies.

Of 390 papers evaluated, 81 reported prevalence of IBS.

The research team found that 13 of these, containing 49,939 participants, reported the proportion of individuals with GERS.

The prevalence of GERS in IBS was 42%.

The pooled odds ratio for GERS in individuals with IBS, compared with those without, was 4.

The odds ratio for GERS in IBS remained significantly higher in all geographical regions studied, and for all diagnostic criteria used.

The researchers found that a degree of overlap between the 2 conditions varied from 14%, when the Rome II criteria for IBS were used, to 27% with the Manning criteria.

Dr Ford's team concludes, "The odds ratio of GERS in individuals with IBS was 4-fold that of individuals without IBS."

"Reasons for this remain speculative, but may include shared pathophysiological mechanisms or residual confounding."

Am J Gastroenterol 2012; 107: 1793–1801
10 December 2012

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