The aim of this study was to examine the lifestyle of adult patients with abdominal discomfort (i.e., diarrhea, bloating, pain, and irregular defecation) self-attributed to food hypersensitivity and compare it with controls to see if the patients had a special lifestyle explaining their symptoms. Forty-six participants in this study were adult ethnic Norwegians referred by general practitioners to the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Allergy at Haukeland University Hospital because of gastrointestinal complaints, which the patients or their doctors suspected could be due to food allergy. They were compared with 70 age- and sex-matched volunteer controls from the general population. All participants filled out an extensive questionnaire focusing on different lifestyle aspects.
One hundred percent of the patients and 43% of the controls (p < .0001) reported hypersensitivity to at least one food item. Significantly, fewer patients than controls reported daily consumption of milk (p = .004), coffee (p = .02), and alcohol (p = .008) for the past year. Among consumers, the participants used less milk (P = .002) and coffee (P = .04) than controls. Eating habits, meal patterns, quality of sleep, the amount of exercise, and use of painkillers were similar in both groups. There were small differences in lifestyle between the patients and the controls. Patients with gastrointestinal complaints self-attributed to food hypersensitivity used less milk, coffee, and alcohol, but none of those differences explain their symptoms. Such lifestyle would rather be expected to lessen symptoms, and we postulate that it is the consequence of their food intolerance and not its cause.
Ragna Lind, MSc, RN, is Research Nurse, Institute of Medicine, University of Bergen, and Division of Gastroenterology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
Snorri Olafsson, PhD, MD, is Head Physician, Division of Gastroenterology, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, CA.
Ina Hjelland, PhD, MD, is Senior Resident, Department of Neurology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
Arnold Berstad, PhD, MD, is Professor, Institute of Medicine, University of Bergen, and Division of Gastroenterology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
Gülen Arslan Lied, PhD, MD, is Senior Resident, Institute of Medicine, University of Bergen, and Division of Gastroenterology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
Correspondence to: Ragna Lind, MSc, RN, Institute of Medicine, Haukeland University Hospital, N-5021 Bergen, Norway (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Received February 11, 2008; accepted May 30, 2008.