Chronic gastrointestinal symptoms in hemodialysis patients

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INTRODUCTION: Gastrointestinal disorders occur frequently in
dialysis patients. Few data are available on the prevalence of
symptoms originating from the gastrointestinal tract in this
group of patients. Our aim was to obtain data on the
prevalence of chronic gastrointestinal symptoms in patients
undergoing hemodialysis.
METHODS: All 109 patients of our
dialysis unit were given a questionnaire to complete which was
previously validated and designed to measure the occurrence of
gastrointestinal, and some general symptoms during the
preceding year. 105 subjects responded (96% response rate).
RESULTS: 79% of dialysis patients had at least one of the
following chronic gastrointestinal symptoms: Esophageal
symptoms were reported in 21% abdominal pain in 28% and
dyspeptic symptoms in 48%. The irritable bowel syndrome was
diagnosed in 12 patients (11%), 40% had chronic constipation
and 24% had chronic diarrhoea. Colonic pain was described in
20% of patients. Frequent general symptoms (such as weakness,
headaches, insomnia and fatigue) were described in up to 51%,
and patients were severely bothered by symptoms in up to 33%
of cases.
CONCLUSION: Although patients on hemodialysis
generally report a good quality of life, the prevalence of
gastrointestinal symptoms and of general symptoms is high and
many dialysis patients consider these symptoms to cause major
impairment of daily life.

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