If you often have a stomachache after eating, you’re not alone, a new survey finds. One in 10 people experience frequent meal-related pain.
This includes 13% of women and 9% of men, and is most common in 18- to 28-year-olds (15%), according to an online survey of more than 54,000 people in 26 countries.
“The take home message from this study is that people who experience meal-related abdominal pain more frequently experience other gastrointestinal symptoms,” said researcher Esther Colomier, a doctoral student at KU Leuven in Belgium, and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
These individuals also were more likely to have bloating, a swollen stomach, a feeling of being too full after eating or to fill up too quickly. They also reported having constipation and diarrhea, as well as more psychological distress and other symptoms.
In all, 36% of survey respondents with frequent meal-related pain had anxiety, compared with 25% of those with occasional episodes and 18% of those with none. People with frequent bouts of abdominal pain also reported higher rates of depression (35%) compared with those with occasional symptoms (24%) and those with none (17%).
“They also have a higher burden of psychological and somatic symptoms, such as back pain or shortness of breath, which are associated with major distress and functioning problems,” Colomier said in a news release from United European Gastroenterology. “These symptoms cause distress and disruption in daily life.”