Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD), i.e. diarrhoea as a side-effect of antibiotic therapy, affects up to 25 per cent of all patients treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics kill pathogenic bacteria in the body and thereby also affect the “good” bacteria. The balance of the gut flora gets disturbed and this imbalance may persist for a long time. The risk of AAD is increased by factors such as the intake of several different types of antibiotics over a long period of time, gastrointestinal surgery and long-term hospital stays.
The incidence of constipation among children varies between 7 and 30 per cent depending on the country. Many children with constipation have continued problems as teens and adults and consequently functional constipation is a common problem also among adults. The overall prevalence worldwide is 14 per cent, with a higher prevalence among women and the elderly. Functional constipation is present when no underlying medical disease responsible for the symptoms can be found.
Helicobacter pylori – the gastric ulcer bacterium
At least half of the world’s population is infected by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), but the incidence varies from over 80 per cent of all adults in developing regions such as Asia and Latin America to between 20 and 50 per cent in the industrialised world. H. pylori may lead to chronic gastritis and is strongly linked to the development of gastric ulcers and stomach cancer. The majority of infected individuals are however asymptomatic, only around 20 per cent have symptoms. How the bacteria is transmitted is not fully understood, but many are infected as children.