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Sunday, 9 September, 2001, 23:51 GMT 00:51 UK
Serious gut problems 'ignored'
Bad diet
Bad diet could lead to stomach problems
More than one in four people suffer from digestive problems at least once or twice a week.

But experts say people are still not taking them seriously enough, and often ignore the problem until it becomes severe.

A recent study by the Digestive Disorders Foundation (DDF) and pro-biotic yoghurt manufacturer Yakult revealed that one in 10 of us suffer with the symptoms of heartburn, indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea or abdominal pain.

Stomach upsets account for more than 20m sick days every year.

Stressful hours

And stress, long and irregular hours make the problems worse, with people in demanding jobs often having the worst digestive health.

People are putting up with their digestive symptoms rather than seeking help and information

Geraldine Oliver, DDF
Long term stress is thought to be one of the causes of chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.

Despite this many ignore the problem until it becomes chronic and needs medical help.

But the DDF say changes in diet and more sensible working hours could reduce the problem.

Gut Week, which runs from September 10-16, hopes to draw attention to the problems and spell out the importance of digestive health at work.

Geraldine Oliver, director of the DDF, said the figures from their survey confirmed that there were large numbers of people whose lives were blighted by digestive problems.

"These figures show that people are putting up with their digestive symptoms rather than seeking help and information.

"If your sleep was being disturbed once or twice or most nights a week by a cough, you would certainly seek help very quickly."

Seek help

Dr Hilary Jones, GP and broadcaster, said he hoped the findings would encourage more people to go to their doctor for help.

"The extent of suffering caused by common digestive symptoms is demonstrated in this survey.

"It also underlines the importance of awareness events such as Gut Week which encourage more people to talk about their symptoms - to others and to their doctor - and to access quality information."

The Gut helpline - 020 8743 4287 is available 24 hours a day for information packs.

From 10-21 September between 6-10pm a trained nurse will be on hand to advise callers about their digestive symptoms.

See also:

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