If you often have a stomachache after eating, you're not alone, a new survey finds. One in 10 people experience frequent meal-related pain.
This includes 13% of women and 9% of men, and is most common in 18- to 28-year-olds (15%), according to an online survey of more than 54,000 people in 26 countries.
"The take home message from this study is that people who experience meal-related abdominal pain more frequently experience other gastrointestinal symptoms," said researcher Esther Colomier, a doctoral student at KU Leuven in Belgium, and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
These individuals also were more likely to have bloating, a swollen stomach, a feeling of being too full after eating or to fill up too quickly. They also reported having constipation and diarrhea, as well as more psychological distress and other symptoms.
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," Colomier said in a news release from United European Gastroenterology. "These symptoms cause distress and disruption in daily life."
Symptoms such as constipation and diarrhea were experienced in 30% of those who reported frequent pain after eating, compared with 20% of those with occasional symptoms and 10% of others. The same applied to bloating and abdominal distension symptoms, the findings showed.
Colomier suggested that meal-related symptoms should be considered when diagnosing such disorders as irritable bowel syndrome and bloating -- a category of health problems known as DGBIs, disorders of gut-brain interactions.
"In clinical practice, assessing meal association in all patients with DGBIs could be of major importance for improving and individualizing treatment. Here, patients could benefit from a multidisciplinary care approach, including dietary and lifestyle advice, psychological support and pharmacological therapy," Colomier said.
The findings were presented Monday at an online meeting of United European Gastroenterology. Findings presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The Mayo Clinic has more about stomach pain after eating.
SOURCE: United European Gastroenterology, news release, Oct. 4, 2021