Epidemiological studies suggest considerable overlap between functional dyspepsia (FD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Aim: The aim of the present study was to investigate whether coexisting IBS is also associated with symptom pattern or pathophysiology in FD.
Methods: In 309 consecutive FD patients (207 women, age 42 +/- 0.8 yr), questionnaires were used to assess the dyspepsia symptom pattern and the Rome II criteria for IBS. The overall symptom severity was calculated adding the severity score (0-3, 0 = absent, 3 = severe) of eight dyspepsia symptoms. All patients underwent Helicobacter pylori testing, gastric barostat to determine sensitivity to distention and accommodation to a meal, and gastric emptying breath test.
Results: Fifty-four percent of the patients had FD alone, whereas 46% had FD + IBS. FD + IBS patients were more likely to be female (75%vs 60%, p < 0.01) and to have a greater weight loss (5.4 +/- 0.6 vs 3.5 +/- 0.4 kg, p < 0.05). Coexisting IBS did not increase the risk of having any of the dyspeptic symptoms but the overall symptom severity was significantly higher in FD + IBS (12.4 +/- 0.4 vs 9.8 +/- 0.3, p < 0.01). FD + IBS patients had a lower threshold for first perception (2.9 +/- 0.3 vs 3.8 +/- 0.3 mmHg, p < 0.05) and for discomfort (7.9 +/- 0.4 vs 9.5 +/- 0.5 mmHg, p < 0.05) and a greater prevalence of hypersensitivity to gastric distention (44%vs 28%, p < 0.05). Gastric emptying, accommodation to a meal, and prevalence of H. pylori infection did not differ in the two groups.
Conclusion: About half of the FD patients fulfill the Rome II criteria for IBS. FD + IBS is more prevalent in female patients and is associated with a higher weight loss, with greater overall symptom severity, and with hypersensitivity to distention.