Gastric complaints with no findings: Four out of ten people suffer from them

Gastric complaints with no findings: Four out of ten people suffer from them

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Functional gastrointestinal disorders are on the rise

Four out of ten adults worldwide suffer from functional gastrointestinal disorders of various degrees of severity. This is the result of a study with more than 73,000 people in 33 countries.

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden conducted an international study on chronic gastrointestinal disorders. They paid particular attention to so-called functional gastrointestinal disorders, for which there are no clear explanations or connections with objective findings from routine examinations. Irritable bowel syndrome, reflux, chronic constipation, feeling of fullness or flatulence are examples of these symptoms. The study was recently published in the medical journal "Gastroenterology".

Frequent complaints in the upper gastrointestinal tract

Common complaints from the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract, which include the esophagus and stomach, are heartburn, reflux and indigestion or indigestion (dyspepsia). In everyday parlance, this symptom is often referred to as a "sensitive stomach" or "gastritis", although there is no inflammation of the stomach.

Common complaints in the lower gastrointestinal tract

In the lower parts of the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the intestine, chronic constipation, bloating, flatulence and irritable bowel syndrome often occur. For the first time, the Swedish study provides an overview of the global prevalence of these diseases.

Stomach discomfort similarly distributed in all countries

"It is striking how similar the results are between the countries," reports Magnus Simrén, research director and professor of gastroenterology. According to the study, these disorders with minor deviations occur equally frequently in all countries and continents.

Women are more likely to have stomach problems

The prevalence of these common gastric complaints is higher in women than in men and clearly associated with a lower quality of life. In women, almost every second test subject (49 percent) met the diagnostic criteria for at least one functional gastrointestinal disorder. For men, it was more than a third (37 percent).

Far-reaching consequences for the quality of life

The severity of the illnesses varied from mild complaints to symptoms that greatly impaired the quality of life. The prevalence of such complaints was also closely related to high demands on the health system, e.g. visits to the doctor, taking medication and surgery.

Do you suffer from these complaints?

Further information, therapy suggestions and home remedies for the above symptoms can be found in the following articles:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome - causes, home remedies and therapy
  • Indigestion, digestive problems - symptoms, causes, naturopathy
  • Reflux - causes, symptoms, treatment
  • Constipation - causes and home remedies
  • Home remedies for bloating
  • Heartburn - causes and treatment
  • Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) - causes, symptoms and therapy
  • Bloated belly - causes and effective help


Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • University of Gothenburg: Four of ten adults worldwide have functional gastrointestinal disorders (05/27/2020),
  • Ami D. Sperber, Shrikant I. Bangdiwala, Douglas A. Drossman, et al .: Worldwide Prevalence and Burden of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Results of Rome Foundation Global Study; in: Gastroenterology, 2020,

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