Gut disorders caused by rumination often go misdiagnosed, study says

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have found that rumination syndrome, which may cause gastrointestinal issues, often goes undiagnosed, The Print reported Jan. 3. 

The study, which was published in Neurogastroenterology and Motility in March 2021 and surveyed 242 individuals referred to specialists based on gastric issues, notes that individuals who regurgitate often for no specific reason may have rumination, a behavioral issue involving the gut and brain which causes individuals to regurgitate food while eating and sitting upright.

The research found that many individuals have similar symptoms to other gut- and brain related-disorders, such as functional dyspepsia and gastroparesis, leading to misdiagnosis. The study further shared that patients may incorrectly report symptoms as vomiting or reflux, also leading to an incorrect diagnosis. 

Nearly 13 percent of the surveyed individuals met the criteria for rumination syndrome, 48 percent of whom reported associated psychosocial impairment. 

"This condition causes a lot of embarrassment and may stop people from eating with others," Trisha Satya Pasricha, MD, co-lead author with Helen Burton Murray, PhD, both of MGH's Division of Gastroenterology. "It is not well understood, and is often mistaken for other disorders."

The study also found there were no demographic differences between subjects with rumination and without. 

Researchers recommended deep breathing exercises or cognitive behavioral therapy for those with rumination syndrome. 

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