Objectives: To investigate the frequency of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and symptoms compatible with this condition among male students studying in secondary schools for boys in AlJouf province of Saudi Arabia.
Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted in April 2009, AlJouf province of Saudi Arabia, involving a self administered questionnaire (translated in Arabic) based on Manning and Rome II criteria for diagnosis of IBS that was distributed to 2025 students at secondary school for boys, by convenience sampling. About 86.3% (1747) completed the questionnaire. Sample size was calculated using Epi. Info 6.4, seat calculator.
Results: The prevalence of IBS was 8.9% and 9.2% according to Manning and Rome II criteria for diagnosis of IBS respectively in the study subjects with mean age of 17.5 +/- 3 years and range of 15-23 years. The most common symptom compatible with IBS was abdominal pain or discomfort in 37.9% of our sample, followed by feeling of incomplete rectal evacuation after defecation in 32.2% of the same sample. Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort caused increase in rates of absence from schools in 28.2% of affected students (p < 0.05). There is a statistically significant association between family size and clusters of symptoms compatible with IBS (p < 0.045).
Conclusion: IBS is common health problem in apparently healthy males studying in secondary schools for boys in AIJouf province of Saudi Arabia. Symptoms suggestive of this condition leading to a negative impact on their quality of life measures, and school performance. Early diagnosis and health education of this condition are imperative.