OBJECTIVES: Hepatitis C virus is a common chronic infection that is widely associated with symptoms of fatigue and pain in the right upper quadrant. Nausea may be an under-recognized symptom. This study was designed to study the frequency of nausea in patients with hepatitis C virus infection compared to controls. METHODS: A cross-sectional study design with consecutive outpatients was used. Three groups were administered a dyspepsia and a previously validated Nausea Profile questionnaire. Univariate and multivariate analysis was performed. RESULTS: A total of 64 hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients, 53 liver disease controls (LC), and 64 normal controls (NC) were studied. An increased period prevalence of nausea was found in HCV patients 43% versus 29.7% in NC and 18.9% in LC (p = 0.009). There was an increased frequency of fatigue and abdominal pain in HCV patients over 1 month compared to LC and NC combined (p = 0.0001 and 0.0065 respectively). The Nausea Profile score revealed statistically higher total scores and higher subscale scores in the HCV group compared to controls. The total NP score expressed as a percentage of the maximum was 27% in HCV versus 12.7% for LC and 9.2% for NC (p = 0.0005). The odds of nausea using logistic regression were 2.1 CI (1.0-4.5) in HCV patients compared to controls (p = 0.05). Using linear regression, higher Nausea Profile scores were found to be independently associated with the diagnosis of HCV (.0005), fatigue (p = 0.0003), and abdominal pain (p = 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: HCV infection is associated with an increased risk for nausea. The strong association between abdominal pain and nausea may be a clue to the etiology of nausea in these patients. Further etiological studies are needed.
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