Table 1

Prevalence rates (%) of symptoms in a random sample from Sydney, Australia

Symptoms Women1-151 (n=390) Men1-151 (n=336) Overall(n=7261-150)
Abdominal pain in prior year
 Pain >3 months in the past year22.515.118.8
 Pain severity (moderate or greater)29.621.225.3
 Pain frequency (at least once a month)39.329.834.4
 Upper abdominal pain12.811.512.1
 Lower abdominal pain16.510.413.4
 Both upper and lower abdominal pain9.96.58.1
 Localised epigastric pain (one finger)17.211.614.3
 Woken by pain from sleep at night18.41215.1
 Periodic pain2516.520.1
 Abdominal pain (any)39.529.734.5
  Pain relieved by defecation often56.849.152.9
  More bowel movements when pain begins often31.53734.3
  Less bowel movements when pain begins often27.815.821.7
  Looser stools when pain begins often41.841.841.8
  Harder stools when pain begins often22.621.622.1
  Belching relieves pain often33.940.737.4
  Antacid relieves pain often4242.642.3
  Food or milk relieves pain often192220.5
  Food aggravates pain often37.830.134.2
  Pain before meals often16.319.217.8
  Pain postprandially often50.552.251.3
Constipation in prior year
Less than 3 bowel move/week often21.16.313.5
 Very lumpy stools often29.516.522.9
 Feelings of incomplete evacuation often37.622.930.1
 Straining often30.514.322.3
Diarrhoea in prior year 
More than 3 stools/day often11.31211.7
 Very loose or watery stools often1313.213.1
 Urgency often34.6 27.831.1
 Mucus in stools12.26.49.2
Upper gastrointestinal complaints in prior year
Early satiety often16.610.913.7
 Food staying in stomach23.414.518.8
 Nauseous25.213.619.3
 Vomiting8.6 4.96.7
 Retching11 8.3 9.6
Gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms in prior year
Heartburn once a month or more23.22222.6
 Acid reflux once a month or more17.211.314.2
Other gastrointestinal symptoms in prior year
Abdominal bloating often44.418.831.4
 Upper abdominal bloating often17.529.123.4
 Lower abdominal bloating often40.836.738.7
 Both upper and lower abdominal bloating often40.730.635.6
 Visible distension often36.612.924.5
Lifetime symptoms 1-153
Previous recurrent abdominal pain44.136.240.1
 Previous pain for >3 months43.435.739.5
 Onset of abdominal pain >5 years ago57.269.562.2
 Previous pain location    
  Upper abdomen35.637.436.5
  Lower abdomen44.434.739.5
  Both upper and lower abdomen20.425.623.1
 Previous bowel disturbance29.22024.5
  • 1-150 Four subjects provided incomplete data and so were excluded.

  • 1-151 Age (10 year age groups) and age and gender adjusted for Australia (based on 1991 census data).

  • Often, >25% of the time.

  • 1-153 Defined as occurring before the past 12 months.