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News

Alcohol consumption and gastrointestinal symptoms in IBS

A study in this month's American Journal of Gastroenterology examines the relationship between patterns of alcohol consumption and gastrointestinal symptoms among patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

News image

Heavy alcohol intake may exacerbate gastrointestinal symptoms in adults with irritable bowel syndrome.

However, the role of alcohol in irritable bowel syndrome is unclear.

The researchers investigated prospective associations between daily patterns of alcohol intake and next day's gastrointestinal symptoms using daily diaries.

Dr Kerryn Reding perfofrmed an observational study of women aged 18–48 years with irritable bowel syndrome and healthy controls, where participants recorded daily gastrointestinal symptoms, alcohol intake, caffeine intake, and cigarette smoking for 1 month.

Gastrointestinal symptoms included abdominal pain, abdominal bloating, intestinal gas, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, stomach pain, heartburn, and indigestion. Binge drinking was defined as 4+ alcohol-containing drinks/day.

The doctors assessed that patterns of alcohol intake did not differ between irritable bowel syndrome patients and controls.

Associations between alcohol intake and GI symptoms were stronger in IBS-diarrhea
American Journal of Gastroenterology

Although patterns of drinking were associated with gastrointestinal symptoms among women with irritable bowel syndrome, this was not the case with the healthy controls.

The research team reported that the strongest associations for irritable bowel syndrome patients were between binge drinking and the next day's gastrointestinal symptoms, whereas moderate and light drinking either were not associated or weakly associated with gastrointestinal symptoms.

Associations between alcohol intake and gastrointestinal symptoms were stronger for women with irritable bowel syndrome-diarrhea than for irritable bowel syndrome-constipation or IBS-mixed.

The doctors found that the effects of binge drinking on gastrointestinal symptoms were strongest when comparing between individuals.

Dr Reding's team concludes, "Our findings indicate that irritable bowel syndrome symptoms differ according to the pattern of alcohol intake among irritable bowel syndrome some patients, suggesting that the pattern of drinking may in part explain the inconsistent findings between alcohol and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms."

Am J Gastroenterol 2013: 108: 270-276
15 February 2013

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