Abdominal bloating is the most bothersome symptom in irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C): A large population-based Internet survey in Japan

Motoyori Kanazawa, Hiroto Miwa, Ayako Nakagawa, Masanori Kosako, Hiraku Akiho, Shin Fukudo

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Abdominal bloating is a common symptom in patients with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C). However, it is not included among the required items in the Rome III diagnostic criteria for IBS. Little is known about an impact of abdominal bloating seen in patients with IBS-C. Using a large population-based sample, the aim of the present study was to investigate what is the most bothersome symptom in subjects with IBS-C. Methods: An Internet survey of 30,000 adults drawn from the general public throughout Japan was conducted to identify subtypes of IBS using the Rome III diagnostic questionnaire. Consecutively, the screened subjects with IBS-C and the same number of age- and sex-matched non-IBS subjects who were randomly selected as controls were asked to answer a questionnaire on the degree of anxiety they experienced in their daily lives, thoughts about bowel habit, and their dominant gastrointestinal symptoms together with exacerbation factors (for IBS-C only). Results: The screening survey showed that the prevalence of overall IBS was 16.5 % (female 17.4 %, male 15.5 %) and that 2.8 % met the criteria for IBS-C, 4.5 % for IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D) and 8.2 % for mixed IBS (IBS-M). Seven hundred and fifty-nine of 835 (90.9 %) subjects with IBS-C and 746 of 830 (89.9 %) control subjects completed the consecutive questionnaire. IBS-C subjects felt a higher degree of anxiety in their daily lives (p < 0.01) and considered bowel habit to be an indicator of health (p < 0.01) to a greater extent than control subjects. In IBS-C, the degree of anxiety was significantly associated with abdominal discomfort (p < 0.01), pain (p < 0.01) and bloating (p = 0.02), but not with the frequency of bowel habit (p > 0.1). Abdominal bloating was the most bothersome symptom (27.5 %), which was more likely to occur after a meal (52.2 %), at work/school (29.2 %) and during times of stress (26.8 %). Only 4.5 % of IBS-C subjects reported abdominal pain as the 'most bothersome' symptom. Conclusions: A large population-based Internet survey suggests that abdominal bloating has a great impact on the daily lives of subjects diagnosed with IBS-C. Not only bowel movement/abdominal pain but also abdominal bloating should be evaluated in patients with IBS-C.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19
JournalBioPsychoSocial Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 4


  • Abdominal bloating
  • Constipation
  • Epidemiology
  • Food
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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