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Higher Risk for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional bowel disorder and is difficult to identify because it is diagnosed by clinical symptoms rather than tests, according to the researchers. “We know that people participating in shift work often complain of gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhoea,” says Sandra Hoogerwerf, lead author of the study. “These are the same symptoms of IBS.”
Hoogerwerf and her colleagues evaluated nurses classified into three groups—214 working permanent day shifts, 110 working permanent night shifts and 75 working rotating shifts between day and night—based on self-reported abdominal symptoms and sleep quality. More than 85 percent were women. “Our findings suggest that nurses participating in shift work, particularly those who participate in rotating shift work, have a higher prevalence of IBS and abdominal pain. This association is independent of sleep quality,” the authors write.
“We know the colon has its own biological clock and that’s what increases the likelihood of having a bowel movement in the first six hours of the day,” Hoogerwerf says. “Shift work can cause chronic disruption of that biological rhythm, resulting in that clock to constantly be thrown off and needing to adjust, creating symptoms of diarrhoea, boating, constipation and abdominal pain and discomfort.”
The researchers say their study suggests that sleep disturbances do not completely explain the existence of IBS or abdominal pain associated with shift work. “The question now for further research is if IBS and abdominal pain is an underlying manifestation of a circadian rhythm disorder,” Hoogerwerf says. Meanwhile, the researchers suggest “practicing gastroenterologists should be aware of this association and educate patients with IBS on the possible impact of their work schedule on their symptoms.”
MEDICA.de; Source: University of Michigan Health System