| Keeping Active Helps
Irritable Bowel Patients Cope
SEATTLE (Reuters Health)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) significantly
impairs quality of life, burdens patients with high out-of-pocket
costs and causes losses in productivity, according to findings
presented Sunday at the American College of Gastroenterology's
annual meeting. However, a related study, also presented on Sunday,
found that exercise may help patients to cope with their disorder.
IBS is estimated to affect up to 20%
of the US population, primarily women, yet there is no cure or
even an effective treatment, explained lead author Dr. Mugdha
Gore, who is with Avalon Health Solutions. The condition is characterized
by a cluster of symptoms including bouts of constipation, diarrhea,
abdominal pain and bloating. The cause of the condition is unknown.
"This leads to patients trying out
numerous drugs and other treatments, much of which is paid out-of-pocket
since they are not recognized by their insurance company or HMO,"
she told Reuters Health.
Gore and colleagues conducted a survey
of members of the Intestinal Disease Foundation, a national patient
advocacy group. The questions covered topics such as disease history,
symptom frequency, healthcare utilization, medication use, out-of-pocket
expenses and impact of symptoms on productivity and functioning.
Of 657 respondents, 97% reported having
two or more consults with a healthcare professional in the last
3 months, and 75% reported four or more. Most patients said they
had used over-the-counter and prescription medications and alternative
modalities, with 89% taking at least three therapies. The average
out of pocket expenditure was $258 during the past 3 months.
Of those who were employed, 39% had
missed work, 34% reported leaving early, and 33% said their productivity
was decreased during the 3 months preceding the study.
"This is still a disease that is not
taken seriously," Gore explained, "even though it impairs all
aspects of a person's life."
According to the survey, only one
third of respondents reported satisfaction with currently available
A related study found that an increase
in physical activity was associated with a better quality of life
among IBS patients, and results suggest that a higher level of
physical activity may help them manage their illness.
"Ours is the first study to look at
the role of physical activity in this population, even though
exercise has been advocated as a treatment modality," lead author
Dr. Ashok K. Tuteja told Reuters Health. "Decreased physical activity
will not increase the prevalence of IBS, but people who are more
active will have a better perception and it helps them in coping
Tuteja, who is from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and
colleagues performed a study that evaluated the association between
quality of life and exercise. In response to a questionnaire sent
to 1,069 employees of the Veterans Affairs Health Care System, inquiring
about bowel habits, quality of life and physical activity, 64 (9.1%)
individuals reported symptoms of IBS.
IBS patients reported lower quality
of life than patients without IBS. However, physical activity
was found to be associated with greater physical functioning and
health perception among those with IBS. The association was with
leisure activity and sports, Tuteja noted. Overall, the patients
who exercised felt better.
Reference Source 89