One in 10 people experience frequent meal-related pain, including 13% of women and 9% of men, and most common among those aged 18-28 (15%), according to an online survey of more than 54,000 people in 26 countries conducted by United European Gastroenterology. Patients with meal-related pain were also more likely than those without such pain to have to bloat, a swollen stomach, a feeling of being too full after eating or to fill up too quickly, constipation, and diarrhea. In all, 36% of survey respondents with frequent meal-related pain had anxiety, compared with 25% of those with occasional episodes and 18% of those with none. People with frequent bouts of abdominal pain also reported higher rates of depression (35%) compared with those with occasional symptoms (24%) and those with none (17%). “They also have a higher burden of psychological and somatic symptoms, such as back pain or shortness of breath, which are associated with major distress and functioning problems,” said co-author Esther Colombier, a doctoral student at KU Leuven, Belgium, and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. “These symptoms cause distress and disruption in daily life.” She suggested that meal-related symptoms should be considered when diagnosing such disorders as IBS and bloating.
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