Intestinal disease infection numbers in the UK have jumped by almost 50% in the space of around 20 years.
As many as 17 million people, a quarter of the population, are said to experience related diarrhoea and vomiting each year, according to a large-scale study.
Research lead Sarah O’Brien, who works at the University of Manchester, said of the total number falling victim to infectious intestinal diseases each year, only around one million actually bother to see their doctor.
She added: “One interesting finding was that although the overall incidence of IID (infectious intestinal diseases)has gone up by nearly 50% since the previous study was undertaken in the early 1990s, fewer people are consulting their GPs when they have episodes of vomiting or diarrhoea.
“This might suggest that perhaps there is better understanding of gastrointestinal illness, with more people realising that these are usually self-limiting episodes from which the majority of people will recover without treatment other than rest and the replacement of fluids.”
The research findings were shown to the annual conference of the Health Protection Agency.
- O’Brien SJ et al. B18021: The second study of infectious intestinal disease in the community (IID2). Food Standards Agency 2011
- Tam CC. O’Brien SJ et al. Longitudinal study of infectious intestinal disease in the UK (IID2 study): incidence in the community and presenting to general practice. GUT 2011