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Home arrow Health arrow Gut Health arrow Gut Health Statistics: 8 Surprising Facts

Gut Health Statistics: 8 Surprising Facts

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: March 21, 2023
7 min read 1508 Views 0 Comments
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gut health statistics and facts

Let’s face it, most of us don’t think much about our digestive systems unless we experience an impatient rumble before supper or a cheeky gas leak. But then we might believe that our stomach has a considerably wider impact on our general health, affecting everything from our immune and mental health to our weight and skin.

Due to the numerous efforts, we can take to attain a happy tummy, it’s critical to make sure that our guts are in the greatest condition possible.

What exactly is the gut?

The mouth and teeth are the beginning of the gut, and the big intestine is where it ends. This organ system consists of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon or large intestine, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.

Key Findings

  • According to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, over 60 million people are affected by digestive illnesses each year, which result in more than 4.5 million hospitalizations, 72 million ambulatory-care visits, and around 236,000 fatalities.

  • More men than women visited doctors’ offices during the 22.4 million primary diagnoses of digestive diseases (14.4 percent vs. 12.6 percent ). Every 100,000 deaths from digestive disease were most commonly caused by colorectal/anal cancer, which was then followed by esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, vascular intestinal diseases,

  • Gut health issues cost Americans $97.8 billion in direct medical costs, and $44 billion, in indirect costs, such as mortality or disability.

  • Chronic digestive illnesses affect 20 million Americans, which means that 25% of all surgical procedures are for digestive problems.

  • Digestive disorders are the condition that hospitalizes most Americans. In terms of overall medical costs in the United States, digestive problems come in third.

  • Every year, the USA treats 14 million cases of acute digestive illnesses, including one-third of all cancers and some of the most prevalent acute infections.

  • In terms of discomfort and anguish, personal treatment costs, lost productivity, and mortality, digestive illnesses rank among the nation’s most critical health issues.

  • Your stomach matters a lot. It is over 9 meters long, an organ with around 800 to 900 folds, and if put out flat, it would cover a full tennis court. It contains 1.5 to 2 kg of bacteria, which is greater than the weight of your brain and makes up around 70% of your immune system.

Gut Health Stats

What are the six most common digestive system issues?

#1 Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a prevalent disorder that affects the large intestine.

Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, back pain and stomach pains are some of the symptoms. These typically come and go throughout time and can endure for a few days, a few weeks, or even several months.

Typically, it’s a lifelong issue. It can be incredibly annoying to deal with and significantly affect how you live your life. Although there is no cure, medication and lifestyle adjustments can frequently help reduce the symptoms.

The precise reason is unknown, it has been connected to factors like stress, a family history of IBS, oversensitive gut nerves, and how quickly or slowly food passes through your gut.

Key IBS Stats:

  • IBS is thought to affect 5 to 10 percent of people globally.
  • In the US, between 25 and 45 million people suffer from IBS. Nearly two-thirds of IBS patients are female. Men make up about one-third of IBS patients.
  • The majority of IBS patients are under the age of 50. But many older people experience pain as well.
  • In a poll conducted by IFFGD, nearly 2,000 IBS sufferers stated that the average time it took to diagnose their condition was 6.6 years after the symptoms first appeared.
  • Not all IBS sufferers visit a doctor to treat their symptoms. However, in only the United States, there are 2.4 to 3.5 million annual doctor visits for IBS.
Gut Health Stats
  • Hysterectomy or ovarian surgery has been observed to occur more frequently in female IBS patients than in comparison groups, with rates ranging from 47 to 55 percent.

#2 Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GRD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is when stomach acid flows into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach. This backwash begins to irritate.

Reflux is a common condition that occurs occasionally. GRD is defined as moderate to severe acid reflux that happens once or twice a week or mild acid reflux that occurs two to three times a week.

With lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter drugs, the majority of people can control the discomfort of GRD. To alleviate symptoms, however, some GRD sufferers may require harsher drugs or surgery.

Key GERD Stats:

  • With a prevalence of about 20% among adults in western society, GRD is one of the most widespread gastrointestinal illnesses. According to a comprehensive review – between 18.1% and 27.8% of Americans are believed to have GRD.
  • Men tend to have GRD at a slightly higher rate than women do. According to a comprehensive meta-analysis study, women were shown to have a marginally higher pooled prevalence of GRD symptoms than men (16.7 percent to 18.6 percent) vs.15.4 percent to 17.4 percent).
  • About 20% of Americans, according to researchers, are thought to have GERD.
  • According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, GERD caused 4.7 million hospital admissions and 1,653 fatalities in 2010.
Gut Health Stats

#3 Chronic diarrhea

Loose stools that persist for at least four weeks are considered to be chronic diarrhea, typically three or more loose stools per day. Chronic diarrhea can have a variety of causes – when possible, treatment aims to address the underlying cause of diarrhea, firm up loose stools, and address any related problems.

Your quality of life and general health might be significantly impacted by chronic diarrhea. When it’s light, diarrhea is a nuisance; when it’s bad, it could be incapacitating or even fatal. Thankfully, there are solutions that work.

It is often linked to gut health issues such as IBS, or GERD, but can also be a stand-alone issue.

Key Chronic Diarrhea Stats:

  • Chronic diarrhea was prevalent in 6.6% of US adults in a nationally representative sample. It was discovered that dietary, lifestyle, and demographic factors are linked to chronic diarrhea.
  • More than 5% of the population is thought to have chronic diarrhea, and approximately 40% of these people are over the age of 60.
Gut Health Stats
  • Each year, there are over 2 billion instances of diarrheal illness worldwide.
  • According to a US study from 2017, each patient with IBS and diarrhea spent an additional $2,268 annually, of which 78% went toward medical expenses and 22% toward medication costs.

#4 Chronic constipation

Chronic constipation is characterized by irregular bowel motions or trouble passing stools that last for a few weeks or more.

Having fewer than three bowel motions per week is typically referred to as constipation.

Even if it happens frequently, some people have chronic constipation that makes it difficult for them to carry out their everyday activities. People who are chronically constipated could also strain too much to pass a bowel movement.

The underlying cause of chronic constipation influences treatment options in part, changes in diet are also needed if person is struggling with constipation often. But occasionally, no cause is ever identified.

There are many foods that might help with constipation, one of them is psyllium husk

Key Chronic Constipation Stats:

  • Constipation is estimated to affect 16 percent of adults globally on average (ranging from 0.7 percent to 79 percent); however, the frequency was found to be 33.5% among persons between the ages of 60 and 110.
  • According to polls, about 4 million Americans, or around 2 percent of the population, experience frequent constipation. In the United States, constipation outnumbered all other chronic digestive problems as the most frequent digestive complaint.
  • Every year, about 900 people pass away from illnesses connected to or caused by constipation.
  • Women had constipation three times as frequently as males.
Gut Health Stats

#5 Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids, or piles, as it is often referred to, are enlarged veins located around the lower rectum and anus. Internal hemorrhoids, which appear under the skin near the anus, are hemorrhoids that form inside the rectum (external hemorrhoids).

Nearly 75% of adults will get hemorrhoids occasionally. There are numerous causes of hemorrhoids, but it is uncertain what causes them.

Fortunately, there are treatments for hemorrhoids that work. Home remedies and alterations in lifestyle help a lot of people.

Key Hemorrhoids Statistics:

  • Both men and women commonly have hemorrhoids. By the age of 50, hemorrhoids will affect about half of the population.
Gut Health Stats
  • Hemorrhoids affect roughly 1 in 20 Americans
  • Hemorrhoids are estimated to be present in 4.4 percent of the general population worldwide.
  • Hemorrhoids are thought to affect 10.4 million people in the US, and 1 million new cases are reported each year. Surgery is necessary for ten to twenty percent of those new instances.

#6 Stomach ulcers

Gastric ulcers, commonly referred to as stomach ulcers, are abrasive lesions on the stomach lining. Peptic ulcer disease includes stomach ulcers as a subtype. Any ulcer that affects the stomach and small intestines is referred to as a peptic ulcer.

Gut Health Stats

When the thick coating of mucus that shields your stomach from digestive fluids is thinner than normal, stomach ulcers develop. This makes it possible for the stomach’s lining tissues to become eroded by the digestive acids, leading to an ulcer.

Although stomach ulcers are usually treatable, if left untreated, they can worsen.

Key Stomach Ulcer Statistics:

  • An estimated 10% of the US population has evidence of a duodenal ulcer at some point, with 4.6 million Americans affected by peptic ulcer disease each year.
  • The prevalence of peptic ulcer disease has changed from being more common in men to being equally prevalent in men and women. For men, the lifetime prevalence is between 11–14%, while for women, it is between 8–11%.
  • The annual incidence of all peptic ulcer diseases is highest in Spain (141.8/100,000), while it is lowest in the United Kingdom (23.9/100,000).
  • About 4 million Americans currently have active peptic ulcers, and 350,000 new cases are identified yearly.
Gut Health Stats


There is a lot to digest above, so to speak – an alarming discovery for many, with the prevalence of gut health issues speaking volumes about how we need to look after ourselves and our gut.

Many speculate that poor diets are partially to blame for the catalog of stomach issues that people face when in reality, genetics are more crucial.

The US, in particular, has a huge amount of people suffering from a variety of gut-based illnesses, with many choosing not to see doctors, there is every chance that this will get worse. This could be due to skyrocketing medical bills, or simply these issues are not seen to be worth worrying about.

However you spin it, gut health diseases are rifer than ever, and it is crucial that you understand the severity and symptoms, and seek medical help when necessary.

Sources: US Pharmacist, NIDDK, Benenden, NCBI, PubMed, PubMed 2, Elsevier, World Gastroenterology, PubMed 3, PubMed 4, News-Medical, Omics, Emedicine.Medscape, PubMed 5

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: March 21, 2023
7 min read 1508 Views 0 Comments

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