Prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms in the elderly: A population-based study

Nicholas J. Talley, Elizabeth A. O'Keefe, Alan R. Zinsmeister, L. Joseph Melton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

The prevalence of chronic gastrointestinal symptoms and the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in the elderly, and their impact on health, is largely unknown. The prevalence of symptoms compatible with IBS was estimated in a representative sample of elderly community residents, and the impact of these symptoms was determined on presentation for health care. An age- and sex-stratified random sample of noninstitutionalized Olmsted County, Minnesota, residents aged 65-93 years were mailed a valid questionnaire; 77% responded (n = 328). The age- and sex-adjusted prevalence (per 100 persons) of frequent abdominal pain was 24.3 [95% confidence interval (CI), 19.3-29.2], Chronic constipation and chronic diarrhea had prevalences of 24.1 (95% CI, 19.1-29.0) and 14.2 (95% CI, 10.1-18.2), respectively. Fecal incontinence more than once a week was reported in 3.7 per 100 (95% CI, 1.6-5.9). The prevalence of symptoms compatible with IBS (≥3 Manning criteria with frequent abdominal pain) was 10.9 per 100 (95% CI, 7.2-14.6). Among the subjects sampled who had abdominal pain, chronic constipation, and/or chronic diarrhea (n = 152), only 23% had seen a physician for pain or disturbed defecation in the prior year, and this behavior was poorly explained by the symptoms. It is concluded that complaints consistent with functional gastrointestinal disorders are common in the elderly, but symptoms are a poor predictor of presentation for medical care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)895-901
Number of pages7
JournalGastroenterology
Volume102
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

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Confidence Intervals
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Abdominal Pain
Population
Constipation
Diarrhea
Fecal Incontinence
Defecation
Gastrointestinal Diseases
Delivery of Health Care
Physicians
Pain
Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology

Cite this

Talley, N. J., O'Keefe, E. A., Zinsmeister, A. R., & Melton, L. J. (1992). Prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms in the elderly: A population-based study. Gastroenterology, 102(3), 895-901.

Prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms in the elderly : A population-based study. / Talley, Nicholas J.; O'Keefe, Elizabeth A.; Zinsmeister, Alan R.; Melton, L. Joseph.

In: Gastroenterology, Vol. 102, No. 3, 1992, p. 895-901.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Talley, NJ, O'Keefe, EA, Zinsmeister, AR & Melton, LJ 1992, 'Prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms in the elderly: A population-based study', Gastroenterology, vol. 102, no. 3, pp. 895-901.
Talley NJ, O'Keefe EA, Zinsmeister AR, Melton LJ. Prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms in the elderly: A population-based study. Gastroenterology. 1992;102(3):895-901.
Talley, Nicholas J. ; O'Keefe, Elizabeth A. ; Zinsmeister, Alan R. ; Melton, L. Joseph. / Prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms in the elderly : A population-based study. In: Gastroenterology. 1992 ; Vol. 102, No. 3. pp. 895-901.
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