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Digestive Functional Symptoms Among Commercial Pilots in Relation to Diet, Insomnia, and Lifestyle Factors

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Lindgren T, Runeson R, Wahlstedt K, Wieslander G, Dammström B-G, Norbäck D. Digestive functional symptoms among commercial pilots in relation to diet, insomnia, and lifestyle factors. Aviat Space Environ Med 2012; 83:872–8.

Background: The aim of our study was to identify associations between digestive symptoms among pilots and diet, insomnia, and lifestyle factors. Methods: A standardized questionnaire was mailed to all Stockholm pilots on duty in a Swedish airline company: 354 pilots and 564 office workers from the same company participated. Associations were analyzed by multiple logistic regressions with mutual adjustment. Results: Of the pilots, 9.9% reported poor appetite, 15.2% heartburn, 12.4% diarrhea, 62.1% bloating, 9.3% constipation, and 14.4% epigastralgia. Pilots reported more bloating and poor appetite compared with office workers. The prevalence of insomnia was 70.6% among pilots and 63.1% among office workers. Among pilots, insomnia was related to poor appetite, heartburn, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and epigastralgia. There were no associations between insomnia and digestive symptoms among office workers. Among pilots, higher body mass index (BMI) was related to heartburn and smokers more often suffered from constipation. Frequent milk consumption was associated with heartburn and less constipation; female pilots suffered from more constipation. The number of years as an active pilot was negatively associated with epigastralgia and bloating. Conclusion: Insomnia and some digestive symptoms were more common among pilots than office workers. In addition to insomnia, BMI, smoking, female gender, and milk consumption were associated with some digestive symptoms. The strong association between insomnia and digestive symptoms among pilots, but not among office workers, suggests a stress component related to this occupation.

Keywords: commercial pilots; diet; digestive symptoms; insomnia

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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