Peer Reviewed


Heartburn and IBS Often Co-Occur

Heartburn, functional dyspepsia (FD), and irritable bowel syndrome often occur together within individuals, according to the results of a recent study.

“Despite their anatomical separation, co-occurrence of these conditions has been documented in pairwise fashion. However, the extent to which these three conditions all overlap and the impact that might have on patients is less understood,” the authors wrote.

To examine this further, the researchers conducted a community survey of 3445 individuals. Symptoms that could be matched with IBS, FD, and gastroesophageal reflux diseases (GERD) were evaluated, as was self-reported anxiety and depression.

Overall, the prevalence of heartburn, IBS, and FD was 9.8%, 15.2%, and 14.6%, respectively. The calculated probability of all 3 occurring in a single person was 0.36% compared with an observed overlap of 3.51%. Kessler depression score increased from mean 2.5 in those without gastro symptoms to 7.2 in those with symptoms of all 3 conditions. Self-reported anxiety and depression rose from 8.7% and 13.5%, respectively in those without any symptoms to 30.6% and 32.2%, respectively in those with symptoms of all 3.

“Overlap of heartburn, FD and IBS within a single individual occurs more often than random chance would suggest and is associated with poorer psychological wellbeing. The causal direction of the association remains to be determined.”

—Michael Potts


Jones MP, Walker MM, Holtmann GJ, et al. Overlap between heartburn, functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome, occurs more than chance and impacts on psychological wellbeing. Presented at Digestive Disease Week 2021. May 21, 2021.