Chronic gastrointestinal symptoms in Korean population



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Chronic gastrointestinal symptoms are highly prevalent in different geographic populations and cause various gastrointestinal symptoms that greatly inconvenience the lives of those affected.

Examples include GERD, uninvestigated dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic constipation. These problems have an impact on the individual’s quality of life. There is a lack of community-based research evaluating the impact of chronic gastrointestinal symptoms on the quality of life.

A research article to be published on November7, 2008 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology addresses this issue. A research team led by Professor Choi and Jeong from The Catholic University of Korea performed a cross-sectional survey on randomly selected residents in Asan-Si, Korea. The authors assessed chronic gastrointestinal symptoms, using a Rome II based questionnaire. HRQOL was assessed using the Korean version of the SF-36. Of the 1807 eligible subjects, 1417 (78.4%: male 762; female 655) were surveyed, with a face-to-face interview.

The prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), defined as heartburn and/or acid regurgitation experienced at least weekly, was 3.5. The prevalence of uninvestigated dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic constipation, defined by Rome II criteria was 11.7%, 2.2%, and 2.6%, respectively. Compared with those not having chronic gastrointestinal symptoms (n = 1153), subjects with GERD (n = 50), uninvestigated dyspepsia (n = 166) and IBS (n = 31) had significantly worse scores on most domains of the SF-36 scales. The negative impact was greater in females, the elderly, subjects with a low economic class, and those with higher physician visits, and overlapping symptoms.

Based upon this research, it can be concluded that the quality of life was significantly impaired in subjects with GERD, uninvestigated dyspepsia and IBS. It can be reasoned that a better understanding of the impact of these disorders on all aspects of health, both mental and physical, may help in planning appropriate treatment interventions in these conditions.

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