Man with stomach or gastrointestinal pain

Man with stomach pain (© Syda Productions - stock.adobe.com)

Survey reveals that nearly 9 in 10 adults battle gas symptoms on a daily basis, with flatulence by far being the most common issue.

VIENNA, Austria — Breaking wind ranks as the most common gas-related stomach issue, according to a new study. However, the cause of all this flatulence may surprise you. Researchers say a poorer quality of life, stress, anxiety, and depression appear to be to blame for several gas-related symptoms.

The study finds more than four in five people (81.3%) name breaking wind as their most common stomach issue. Other gas-related symptoms include stomach rumbling (60.5%), belching (58%), and bad breath (48.1%). The survey of nearly 6,000 people in the United States, United Kingdom, and Mexico finds trapped wind (47.2%), abdominal distension/swollen tummy (39.6%), and bloating/abdominal pressure (38.5%) are also common ailments.

Only 11.1 percent of the poll reported experiencing no gas symptoms at all during the 24-hour period the survey examined. On average, respondents dealt with three different gas issues across the 24-hour window.

Each person, between the ages of 18 and 99, filled out the Intestinal Gas Questionnaires (IGQs) online. They also revealed their body mass index, exercise habits, emotional well-being, and quality of life over the past seven days.

The results show that higher IGQ scores had a connection to lower mental health and quality of life scores, according to answers respondents gave on the PROMIS Global-10 questionnaire. Simply put, more feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression led to more gastrointestinal trouble.

Can exercise and proper diet help relieve stomach problems?

Researchers add that the IGC scores did not show any connection to each person’s weight or BMI. The scores examining gas problems only showed a small link to how much exercise each respondent participated in.

Scientists from the Rome Foundation Research Institute in the U.S. and Danone Nutricia Research in France also found that younger people between 18 and 34 and 35 and 49 had the highest level of gas-related issues. These individuals had IGQ scores of 24 and 22.6 respectively. Comparatively, adults ages 50 to 64 had an average IGQ score of 12.7, while those 65 and older averaged 8.6.

Gas-related symptom: Total sample
(N=5978)
U.S.
(n=1996)
U.K.
(n=1994)
Mexico
(n=1988)
Bloating – abdominal pressure 38.5% [37.3, 39.7] 32.4% [30.4, 34.5] 31.6% [29.6, 33.6] 51.5% [49.3, 53.7]
Abdominal distention 39.6% [38.3, 40.8] 29.6% [27.6, 31.6] 30.9% [28.9, 32.9] 58.3% [56.1, 60.4]
Flatulence 81.3% [80.3, 82.6] 75.9% [74.0, 78.8] 82.7% [81.0, 84.4] 85.2% [83.6, 86.8]
Difficult gas evacuation 47.2% [45.9, 48.5] 39.7% [37.5, 41.8] 37.1% [34.9, 39.2] 64.9% [62.8, 67.0]
Stomach rumbling 60.5% [59.2, 61.7] 51.6% [49.4, 53.8] 57.4% [55.3, 59.6] 72.4% [70.5, 74.4]
Belching 58.0% [56.7, 59.3] 54.6%  [52.4, 56.8] 53.2% [51.0, 55.4] 66.3% [64.2, 68.4]
Bad breath 48.1% [46.8, 49.3] 40.7% [38.5, 42.8] 40.5% [38.3, 42.6] 63.1% [61.0, 65.2]

 

When comparing countries, respondents in Mexico had significantly higher scores among all seven gas-related issues in the survey. People in the U.S. and U.K. were generally similar, though British IGQ scores were about 6% higher when it came to flatulence and stomach rumbling.

“I think the most remarkable and surprising finding in our study is that almost all adults in the general population experience some daily gas-related symptoms. This is important given the data also clearly reveals that these symptoms affect people’s general wellbeing. Having a high amount of these common intestinal symptoms is associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress, as well as impaired general quality of life,” says lead author Professor Olafur Palsson from the University of North Carolina in a media release.

As for what’s causing the differences across nations, study authors say the exact reason is still unclear. “Cultural, linguistic, diet or public health factors might affect population levels of gas-related symptoms,” Palsson concludes.

Researchers presented their findings at UEG Week Virtual 2021.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink

Editor-in-Chief

Chris Melore

Editor

Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor