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11 Percent of Adults Frequently Experience Meal-Related Pain

Those who frequently experience meal-related pain more often have upper and lower GI symptoms, anxiety, and depression

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TUESDAY, Oct. 5, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Adults who frequently experience meal-related pain often have gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, non-GI somatic symptoms, and psychological distress, according to a study presented at UEG Week Virtual 2021, hosted by United European Gastroenterology and held from Oct. 3 to 5.

Esther Colomier, from KU Leuven in Belgium, and colleagues describe the global prevalence of meal-related pain in individuals without organic GI disorders and the association with disorders of gut-brain interaction (DGBIs) diagnoses. Data were included from 54,127 individuals who completed an internet-based survey and were asked how often their abdominal pain started or got worse after eating a meal.

The researchers found that 11 percent of the adult global population reported frequent meal-related pain (13 and 9 percent of women and men, respectively). Pain occurred more often in younger age groups (18 to 29 years: 31, 28, and 25 percent reported frequent, occasional, and no pain, respectively). In individuals with frequent meal-related pain, the prevalence of most DGBIs was increased; the frequency of having four DGBI diagnoses also was increased. Individuals with frequent meal-related pain more often experienced upper GI symptoms, lower GI symptoms of constipation and diarrhea together with bloating or abdominal distention, and more severe non-GI somatic symptoms; furthermore, a higher proportion experienced anxiety and depression.

"Considering meal-related symptoms in future diagnostic criteria for DGBIs should be encouraged. In clinical practice, assessing meal association in all patients with DGBIs could be of major importance for improving and individualizing treatment," Colomier said in a statement. "Here, patients could benefit from a multidisciplinary care approach, including dietary and lifestyle advice, psychological support, and pharmacological therapy."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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