Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the pattern of symptoms and health care seeking behavior of IBS subjects in the rural population in Bangladesh.
Methods: This was an observational study to do a positive diagnosis of IBS. A total of 2426 persons > or =15 yr old were interviewed by a predesigned questionnaire based on the Rome criteria. Two villages of a northern district in Bangladesh were included.
Results: A response of 95.4% yielded 2426 questionnaires for analysis. Mean age of the surveyed sample was 32.3+/-14.2 yr. In total, 1113 (45.9%) were men, and 1313 (54.1%) were women. Farmers and housewives comprised 2058 (84.8%) persons. The apparent prevalence of IBS was 24.4% with a prevalence of 20.6% in men and 27.7% in women. With strict Rome criteria, the overall prevalence was 8.5% (10.7% in women and 5.8% in men). Age was not found to influence the prevalence in either sex. Other than abdominal pain, the most common IBS symptom was altered stool passage (81.1%). Others in order of frequency were passage of mucus with stool (56.8%), abdominal distension (46.2%), altered stool form (46%), and altered stool frequency (18.2%). Spastic colon pain was noted in 339 (57.2%). IBS subjects with more prevalence of colonic symptoms in the nonspastic group. Drinking milk was found to have a little impact on IBS. A total of 35% IBS subjects consulted doctors for symptoms. Age, sex, and number of symptoms did not influence health care seeking behavior.
Conclusions: IBS is also a problem in rural people in Bangladesh with a prevalence almost identical to most other countries, and only a minority of them seeks health care. Positive diagnosis of IBS can be done by precisely enquiring colonic symptoms in apparently healthy people.