Seasonal changes in symptomatic duodenal ulcer activity in Taiwan: a comparison between subjects with and without haemorrhage

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Abstract

Objectives.

To examine if climatic changes may influence the presentation of pain and haemorrhage in patients with duodenal ulcers.

Design.

Cross-sectional study.

Setting.

Tertiary referral centre.

Subjects.

A total of 10 331 symptomatic duodenal ulcer diseases were diagnosed from 1989 to 1996. The patients who had any extrinsic factors that might influence the exacerbation of duodenal ulcer were not included. Patients were divided into those whose ulcer bled once or repeatedly as distinct from those whose ulcers caused pain without haemorrhagic complications. Patients with acute cholangitis diagnosed in the same period were studied as controls.

Results.

During the 7-year period, 10 331 symptomatic duodenal ulcer diseases were diagnosed. Amongst these, 5328 showed active duodenal ulcer without haemorrhage, 2088 showed acute duodenal ulcer with stigmata of recent haemorrhage, and 2915 showed a deformed bulb. The incidence of total duodenal ulcers showed significant monthly variation and was found to be more common from November to March (P < 0.001). The monthly incidence of total episodes of upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding peaked from November to March (P < 0.001) with significant variation. The monthly incidence of bleeding episodes from duodenal ulcer only was the same (P < 0.001). In patients whose duodenal ulcers repeatedly caused pain without haemorrhage, there were significant monthly fluctuations, with peak months from December to March (P < 0.001). In the control diagnosis, there were no significant calendar variations (P = 0.85).

Conclusions.

Our study has shown that both groups of patients demonstrated similar monthly fluctuations. The incidence is significantly higher during the cold seasons. These data suggest that climatic changes may influence the presentation of pain and haemorrhage in duodenal ulcer patients.

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