Background and aim: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a common chronic infection that is widely associated with symptoms of fatigue and abdominal pain. The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) among patients with hepatitis C compared to controls.
Methods: This study included 258 patients with chronic hepatitis C, 36 patients with chronic hepatitis B, and 160 healthy volunteers. Clinical and laboratory data were recorded for every patient. All patients and controls were administered a questionnaire of IBS according to Rome III criteria.
Results: The percentage of patients with IBS was significantly higher in patients with chronic HCV (66%, 170/258) than chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV; 22%, 8/36) and normal controls (18%, 28/160 patients; P < 0.001 and P < 0.001, respectively). There was no significant difference between chronic HBV and normal controls. In chronic HCV patients, IBS with constipation was the predominant type (51%, 86/170) followed by mixed IBS (73/170, 43%). In patients with chronic HCV, the percentage of females with IBS (91%) was significantly higher than those without IBS (9%; P < 0.001), and the percentage of patients with a high fibrosis score (F2-3) was significantly higher in patients with IBS (45%) than in patients without IBS (6%; P < 0.001). There was no difference regarding age, alanine aminotransferase level, or HCV viremia. A multivariate regression analysis revealed a significant association between sex, fibrosis score, and IBS.
Conclusion: IBS is more prevalent in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Female patients with chronic HCV and those with higher fibrosis scores are more likely to have IBS.