Risk Factors for Fecal Urgency Among Individuals With and Without Diarrhea, Based on Data From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

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Background & AimsFecal urgency is a common symptom among patients with gastrointestinal disorders, but can also occur in healthy individuals with normal bowel habits. There have been few studies of fecal urgency in the general population. We performed a cross-sectional analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to analyze the prevalence of and risk factors for this symptom.MethodsWe analyzed data from 4676 persons who completed the Bowel Health Questionnaire from the NHANES, from 2009 through 2010. The NHANES sampled a nationally representative group of adults in the United States and provides information on demographics, medical comorbidities, and dietary habits of survey participants. The Bowel Health Questionnaire provided additional information about bowel symptoms such as urgency, incontinence, constipation, and diarrhea. We identified individuals with fecal urgency and calculated differences in fecal urgency among subgroups using chi-squared analysis. We used logistic regression to identify factors associated with urgency.ResultsIn our study population, the prevalence of fecal urgency was 3.3%; 29.5% of individuals with fecal urgency had diarrhea. The prevalence of fecal urgency was significantly higher in individuals who had diarrhea (14.8%) than in individuals without diarrhea (3.1%). Older age, female sex, poverty, urinary urge incontinence, diarrhea, and increased stool frequency were all associated with fecal urgency on multivariable analysis. Decreased fiber intake and increased carbohydrate intake were associated with urgency among individuals with diarrhea.ConclusionsIn an analysis of data from 4676 individuals who completed a Bowel Health Questionnaire from the NHANES, we found a significantly higher proportion of individuals with diarrhea to have fecal urgency. However, most individuals with fecal urgency do not have diarrhea. Factors associated with fecal urgency vary among individuals with and without diarrhea.

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