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Epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome in adults

A population-based survey reported in the latest Scandanavian Journal of Gastroenterology investigates the epidemiology of IBS in Denmark in adults under 50 years of age.

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Dr Laura Rindom Krogsgaard from Denmark investigated the prevalence and subtype distribution of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) according to the Rome III criteria, to describe the difference in symptom reporting between those with gastrointestinal symptoms

The research team compared thos not fulfilling Rome III for irritable bowel syndrome with those classified as irritable bowel syndrome, and furthermore to describe the proportion of consulters and formally diagnosed subjects.

A web-based survey was carried out in 2010.

The researchers emailed questionnaires to a web panel representative of the general Danish population aged 18–50 years on gender, age, and geography.

Iritable bowel syndrome and subtypes were estimated by the Rome III criteria.

Of 6112 responders, 979 fulfilled the Rome III criteria for irritable bowel syndrome,and had no organic diagnosis likely to explain their symptoms.

The doctors noted that mixed irritable bowel syndrome ocurred in 36%, irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea in 33%, irritable bowel syndrome with constipation in 18%, and unsubtyped irritable bowel syndrome in 11%.

Mixed irritable bowel syndrome ocurred in 36%
Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology

Those with gastrointestinal symptoms, not fulfilling Rome III for irritable bowel syndrome, had symptoms very similar to those classified as irritable bowel syndrome, but symptoms were less frequent and of shorter duration.

The research team found that of irritable bowel syndrome subjects, 180 out of 978 had consulted a doctor for gastrointestinal symptoms within the past 3 months, but only 8% were diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.

Dr Krogsgaard's team commented, "Symptoms compatible with irritable bowel syndrome according to Rome III are highly prevalent in Denmark."

"A high proportion of sufferers are undiagnosed."

Scand J Gastroenterol 2013: (48) 5: 523-529
13 May 2013

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