Irritable Bowel Syndrome More Common in People With Epilepsy

Posted Aug 26 2016 in Conditions related to epilepsy

A new study, published in the scientific journal Epilepsy and Behavior, shows that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is more common in people with epilepsy than in the ‘general’ population.

The research also suggests that, although IBS itself doesn’t have a negative impact on health-related quality of life in people with epilepsy, it is associated with a greater likelihood of depression/anxiety symptoms and insomnia.

During the study, scientists, led by Dr Marco A. Díaz-Torres, at Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León in Monterrey, Mexico, recruited 65 people with epilepsy and a group of people with similar characteristics, e.g. age, social demographic, who did not have epilepsy.

The team was interested in finding out how common (how prevalent) IBS and another bowel condition called functional dyspepsia were in each group.  They also investigated the subjects’ sleep, symptoms of depression/anxiety and health-related quality of life.

The results showed that the prevalence of IBS was significantly higher in people with epilepsy than in those without epilepsy; but that the prevalence of functional dyspepsia was similar in the two groups.

Particpiants with both epilepsy and IBS had higher rates of insomnia (inability to sleep) and symptoms of depression/anxiety than those with epilepsy who did not have IBS; however, the presence of IBS itself in people with epilepsy did not appear to have a negative effect on health-related quality of life scores.

People with epilepsy are not routinely screened for IBS. This means that treatment may be delayed or withheld altogether. Moreover, gastrointestinal complaints may be wrongly attributed to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), leading to unnecessary treatment changes. The authors therefore concluded that clinicians should screen for the presence of IBS in people with epilepsy complaining of gastrointestinal (bowel) symptoms.

Author: Dr Özge Özkaya

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