Functional Dyspepsia and Severity of Psychologic Symptoms Associate With Postprandial Symptoms in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2018 Nov;16(11):1745-1753.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2018.04.034. Epub 2018 Apr 24.


Background & aims: Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have an increased response of postprandial symptoms to a combined lactulose nutrient challenge test, compared with healthy volunteers. We investigated the associations among comorbid functional dyspepsia (FD), severity of psychologic symptoms, and breath test results in response to this test.

Methods: We performed a prospective study of 205 patients with IBS (Rome III criteria), 94 of whom also had FD (IBS-FD), and 83 healthy volunteers in Sweden from 2008 through 2015. All participants completed a breath hydrogen test after a 400-mL liquid meal with 25 g lactulose. Gastrointestinal (GI) symptom severity was assessed using a graded scale and digestive comfort was recorded before the meal and every 15 minutes until 240 minutes after the meal. GI symptom scores over time were compared between groups using linear mixed models with anxiety, depression, and somatization as covariates.

Results: Average levels of all GI symptoms varied over time among all groups (P < .0001). Patients with IBS-FD had higher levels of bloating (P = .004), abdominal pain (P = .005), and lower levels of digestive comfort (P < .01) than patients with only IBS. We observed a difference in increase in abdominal pain from baseline between IBS-FD and IBS groups (P = .013). Anxiety levels were associated with levels of all symptoms (all P < .025) except abdominal pain, which was associated with somatization severity (P < .0001). Furthermore, anxiety levels associated with level of exhaled hydrogen (P = .0042).

Conclusions: In a prospective study of patients with IBS, we found those with FD to have increased GI symptoms before and after a liquid meal with lactulose. Anxiety and somatization have an independent additional effect. The presence of comorbid FD and levels of psychologic symptoms affect reports of food-related symptoms in patients with IBS. no: NCT01252550.

Keywords: Lactulose-Nutrient Challenge Test; Psychologic Factor; Sensory; Visceral Hypersensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / pathology*
  • Breath Tests
  • Depression / pathology*
  • Dyspepsia / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / analysis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / complications*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / psychology*
  • Lactulose / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Postprandial Period*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sweden


  • Lactulose
  • Hydrogen

Associated data