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Frequency of food hypersensitivity in patients with Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders


Food hypersensitivity (FH), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional dyspepsia (FD) have many overlapping symptoms, including abdominal discomfort, bloating, and altered bowel habits. We aimed to determine the frequency of FH in patients with IBS and functional FD.


Adult patients of either gender diagnosed with IBS and/or FD as per the Rome III criteria were recruited. Patients underwent serological testing against 6 food allergens: beef, shrimp, egg white, milk, peanut, and soy-bean. Those testing positive were subjected to a food elimination diet for 4 weeks. Those showing improvement on elimination diet were subjected to re-challenge. Changes in symptoms were documented by the Global overall improvement scale (GOS) and Gastrointestinal symptom rating scale (GSRS).


Two hundred patients were screened. Average age of the patients was 38.6, and 55% were male. Nineteen (38%) patients tested positive, and were subjected to a food elimination diet. The most common food hypersensitivity was shrimp (17/89%), followed by 4/21% for egg-white, and peanut. Off these, 8 showed improvement. They were re-challenged, and were evaluated 2 weeks later, when all suffered symptom relapse. These 8 (4%) patients were diagnosed with FH. There was a statistically significant difference in both GSRS (total and component) and GOS scores at baseline between patients testing (+) and (-) on food allergen testing, mainly for diarrhoea (p=0.001), abdominal pain (p=0.001) and indigestion p=<0.001).


FH is present in 4% of patients with a functional gastrointestinal disorder.

Acta Gastroenterol Belg. 2018 Apr-Jun;81(2):253−256.
Ismail FW, Abid S, Awan S, Lubna F.

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