Health care seeking for abdominal bloating and visible distention

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Oct;30(7):775-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2009.04080.x. Epub 2009 Jun 25.


Background: While knowledge has accumulated regarding health care seeking in several functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs), little is known about health care seeking in those with bloating and distention.

Aim: To identify predictors of health care seeking for bloating and distention.

Methods: The validated Talley Bowel Disease Questionnaire was mailed to a cohort selected at random from the population of Olmsted County, Minnesota; 2259 subjects (53% females; mean age 62 years) answered questions about bloating and distention. The complete medical record of each respondent was reviewed. Logistic regression was used to compare consulting for bloating and distention with consulting for other GI symptoms, and nonconsulters.

Results: A total of 131 (6%) subjects in the community consulted a physician for bloating or distention. Older age [odds ratio (OR), 1.8; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.5, 2.1], higher somatic symptom scores (OR, 2.0; CI: 1.4, 2.8), lower education level (OR, 2.7; CI: 1.2, 5.6), early satiety (OR, 2.0; CI: 1.1, 3.8) and abdominal pain (OR, 2.4; CI: 1.6, 3.7) were associated with people seeking health care for bloating or distention vs. non-consulters. Similarly, older age (OR, 1.4; CI: 1.2, 1.7), chronic constipation (OR, 2.0; CI: 1.2, 3.2) and visible distention (OR, 3.0; CI: 1.8, 4.9) had greater odds of presenting for bloating or distention compared with presenting for other GI symptoms; somatic symptoms were not a predictor (OR, 1.1; CI: 0.8, 1.5).

Conclusions: Factors that lead people to present for bloating and distention are similar to those for other GI symptoms visits; however, specific biological rather than somatic features may predict visits for bloating and distention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dilatation, Pathologic / epidemiology
  • Dilatation, Pathologic / therapy
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Young Adult