Background: Currently, there is a growing concern towards epidemiological and clinical research on functional gastrointestinal disorders. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is defined as a functional gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal discomfort, abdominal pain, and altered bowel movements. It is the most common gastrointestinal disorder. It can be diarrhea-predominant IBS, constipation-predominant IBS, and mixed type IBS.
Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the frequency of IBS among medical students of Allama Iqbal Medical College and to determine conditions and lifestyle habits that may act as significant risk factors for developing IBS.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted for over 5 months. A sample of 323 individuals was studied whereas the sampled individuals were selected using a "stratified random sampling technique". The study was conducted by collecting data through an online questionnaire during the global COVID pandemic. The questionnaire consisted of three parts. The first section consisted of demographic information, the second section consisted of a standard questionnaire determining the risk factors of IBS i.e., personal food and lifestyle habits, and the last section was aimed at determining whether the person was a case of IBS or not using the widely accepted and used “Rome III Criteria” and determining the predominant pattern of IBS.
Results: The frequency of IBS was found to be 15.5%. Analysis of collected data revealed that the predictors for IBS were stress and reduced hours of daily sleep. It was also observed that a positive family history of irritable bowel syndrome predisposed the development of IBS in a person. 30% of subjects with a positive family history of IBS had symptoms suggestive of IBS.
Conclusion: The study concludes that there is a high incidence of IBS among medical students because they live under higher stress conditions, concerning their academics and professional duty than students and professionals from other educational fields.
Keywords: Irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, stress, food consumption.