KENILWORTH, N.J., May 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Merck Manuals, one of the world's most widely-used medical resources since 1899, today released the results of a recent online survey revealing that four in five (81 percent) Americans say they have ever suffered from digestive discomfort. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) say they suffer once a week or more often.
The survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Merck Manuals found that Americans may be reticent to discuss digestion issues such as cramping, bloating, gas, abdominal pains, diarrhea, or constipation with their physicians. Of those who have ever experienced discomfort, just 16 percent say they typically see a doctor to address it. Instead, many seem to attempt to self-treat or simply live with their symptoms. The poll found that among those who have ever suffered from digestive discomfort:
- 45 percent typically take over-the-counter medications
- 35 percent typically make changes to their diet
- 27 percent say they just deal with it
- 22 percent typically turn to natural treatments or remedies
As gluten-free lifestyles and elimination diets continue to increase in popularity as one way to address digestive discomfort, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of Americans say they have a confirmed or suspected intolerance to foods such as gluten or lactose.
"Those who think they have an intolerance to gluten or want to try a gluten-free diet should absolutely talk a doctor before they make changes to their diet," said Dr. Stephanie Moleski, a, gastroenterology specialist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and author for the Merck Manuals. "Without some gluten in the system, testing for intolerance and serious conditions like celiac disease is much more difficult for doctors and patients."
Celiac disease is a hereditary intolerance to gluten that can cause diarrhea, undernutrition and weight loss. While the prevalence of celiac disease has been increasing over the last 50 years, it is far outpaced by those opting for a gluten-free diet. The Merck Manuals survey found that if Americans suspected they had a food intolerance, only 36 percent would get tested for food allergies/intolerance before eliminating foods from their diet.
Further, before eliminating foods from their diet, Americans indicated they would:
- Reduce consumption of the food they thought they were intolerant to (47 percent)
- Conduct online research (32 percent)
- Talk to family/friends (14 percent)
- Take medication (13 percent)
Only 18 percent stated that they would eliminate the food they thought they were intolerant to immediately. This suggests that many people are unaware of the importance of being tested by a doctor before eliminating wheat, barley, rye, and oats from their diet.
"Patients can struggle for years looking for effective forms of relief from food intolerance and functional bowel disorders," said Dr. Moleski. "Doctors are often able to suggest better treatment alternatives based on family history and specific triggers, but only if patients make the appointment."
Visit MerckManuals.com to learn more about managing functional bowel disorders and food allergies and intolerances.
About The Merck Manuals and MSD Manuals
First published in 1899 as a small reference book for physicians and pharmacists, The Merck Manual grew in size and scope to become one of the world's most widely used comprehensive medical resources for professionals and consumers. As The Manual evolved, it continually expanded the reach and depth of its offerings to reflect the mission of providing the best medical information to a wide cross-section of users, including medical professionals and students, veterinarians and veterinary students, and consumers. This year, The Manuals kicked off Global Medical Knowledge 2020, a program to make the best current medical information accessible by up to three billion professionals and patients around the world by 2020. For access to thousands of medical topics with images, videos and a constantly expanding set of resources, visit MerckManuals.com or MSDManuals.com and connect with us on social media:
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Merck Manuals from May 4-8, 2017 among 2,083 adults ages 18 and older, among which 1,738 have ever suffered from digestive discomfort. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jamie Kloss at email@example.com.
For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world - including cancer, cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer's disease and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.
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