News Release

Gas-related intestinal symptoms affect nearly all adults on a daily basis, and are associated with psychological distress and poorer quality of life, new multi-national survey finds

Reports and Proceedings


(Vienna, October 3, 2021) Gas-related symptoms are associated with poorer quality of life, and higher stress, anxiety, and depression, with breaking wind being the most frequently reported gas issue, affecting eight out of 10 adults in the general population (81.3 %) in a 24-hour period, according to a new survey1 being presented today at UEG Week Virtual 2021.

Other gas-related symptoms included stomach rumbling, which affected 60.5% of respondents, closely followed by belching (58%), and bad breath (48.1%). Trapped wind (47.2%), abdominal distension/swollen tummy (39.6%) and bloating/abdominal pressure (38.5%) also had a noticeable impact, while only 11.1% of respondents reported having no gas symptoms. On average survey participants had been affected by three different gas symptoms within the previous 24-hour period.

The findings from the study, which surveyed nearly 6,000 people across the United States, United Kingdom, and Mexico, were based on a representative sample of people aged 18 to 99 years asked to fill out validated Intestinal Gas Questionnaires (IGQs) via the internet, to measure the presence and severity of 7 gas-related symptoms in the last 24 hours. Researchers also collected information on body mass index, exercise, emotional wellbeing, and quality of life in the past 7 days.

The survey, conducted by scientists from the Rome Foundation Research Institute in the US in collaboration with Danone Nutricia Research in France, revealed that higher IGQ scores correlated with lower mental health and quality of life scores on the PROMIS Global-10 questionnaire, higher stress, anxiety, and depression, and more non-gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. However, IGC scores did not correlate with weight/BMI and only had a modest negative association with the amount of exercise taken.

Younger people aged 18 to 34 and 35 to 49 had the highest overall burden of gas-related symptoms, with IGQ total scores of 24 and 22.6 respectively, compared to 12.7 in people aged 50 to 64 and 8.6 in the over 65s. People in Mexico had higher scores for all seven gas symptoms in IGQ questionnaires, and a higher average IGQ total score, of 26 compared to 14.5 in the US and 13.7 in the UK.

Lead author, Professor Olafur Palsson from the University of North Carolina Department of Medicine, said: “I think the most remarkable and surprising finding in our study is that almost all adults in the general population experience some daily gas-related symptoms. This is important given the data also clearly reveals that these symptoms affect people’s general wellbeing. Having a high amount of these common intestinal symptoms is associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress, as well as impaired general quality of life.”

He added, “The reasons for the marked differences in the amount of gas-related symptoms between Mexico and the other countries we surveyed are unknown, and need to be investigated further. Cultural, linguistic, diet or public health factors might affect population levels of gas-related symptoms.”

The survey methods used included the IGQ, the Patient Health Questionnaire non-GI physical symptoms (PHQ-12) and anxiety and depression (PHQ-4) scales, the PROMIS Global-10 QoL questionnaire and questions on exercises amount, height, weight, and life stress.

Table 1. Prevalence of IGQ gas-related symptoms in past 24 hours: % of respondents [95% CI].

Gas-related symptom:

Total sample




Bloating – abdominal pressure

38.5% [37.3, 39.7]

32.4% [30.4, 34.5]

31.6% [29.6, 33.6]

51.5% [49.3, 53.7]

Abdominal distention

39.6% [38.3, 40.8]

29.6% [27.6, 31.6]

30.9% [28.9, 32.9]

58.3% [56.1, 60.4]


81.3% [80.3, 82.6]

75.9% [74.0, 78.8]

82.7% [81.0, 84.4]

85.2% [83.6, 86.8]

Difficult gas evacuation

47.2% [45.9, 48.5]

39.7% [37.5, 41.8]

37.1% [34.9, 39.2]

64.9% [62.8, 67.0]

Stomach rumbling

60.5% [59.2, 61.7]

51.6% [49.4, 53.8]

57.4% [55.3, 59.6]

72.4% [70.5, 74.4]


58.0% [56.7, 59.3]

54.6%  [52.4, 56.8]

53.2% [51.0, 55.4]

66.3% [64.2, 68.4]

Bad breath

48.1% [46.8, 49.3]

40.7% [38.5, 42.8]

40.5% [38.3, 42.6]

63.1% [61.0, 65.2]




Notes to Editors

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About Prof. Olafur Palsson

Prof. Olafur Palsson is from the UNC (University of North Carolina) Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders in Chapel Hill, US.

About UEG

UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European medical specialist and national societies focusing on digestive health.

Our member societies represent more than 30,000 specialists from every field of gastroenterology. Together, we provide services for all healthcare professionals and researchers, in the broad area of digestive health. The role of UEG is to take concerted efforts to learn more about digestive disease by prevention, research, diagnosis, cure and raising awareness of their importance.

To advance the standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across the world and to reduce the burden of digestive diseases, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives, including:

  • UEG Week: Organising the best international multidisciplinary gastroenterology congress in the world.
  • UEG Research: Supporting cooperation and excellence in digestive health research. 
  • UEG Journal: Delivering clinical information for digestive health with authority.
  • UEG Education: Providing learning opportunities in multiple formats.
  • Quality of Care: Improving clinical practice to reduce health inequalities across Europe.
  • Public Affairs: Acting as the united voice of European Gastroenterology towards the public and policy makers.

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  1. Prevalence and Quality of Life Impact of Gas-Related Symptoms in the General Population: Findings from a Survey of the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK) And Mexico. Presented at UEG Week Virtual 2021.

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