The Bodily Distress Syndrome (BDS) has been proposed as a diagnostic category for functional disorders in primary care. Budtz-Lilly et al reported criteria for its diagnosis. The authors are from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.


Organ groups:

(1) cardiopulmonary and/or autonomic

(2) gastrointestinal tract

(3) musculoskeletal

(4) general


Symptoms in cardiopulmonary and/or autonomic:

(1) palpitations or heart pounding

(2) precordial discomfort

(3) breathlessness without exertion

(4) hyperventilation

(5) hot or cold sweats

(6) dry mouth


Symptoms in gastrointestinal tract:

(1) abdominal pains

(2) frequent loose bowel movements

(3) feeling bloated, distended or full of gas

(4) regurgitations

(5) diarrhea

(6) nausea

(7) burning sensation in chest or epigastrium


Symptoms in musculoskeletal system:

(1) pains in arms or legs

(2) muscular aches or pains

(3) pains in joints

(4) feedlings of paresis or localized weakness

(5) back ache

(6) pain moving from one place to another

(7) unpleasant numbness or tingling sensation


General symptoms:

(1) concentration difficulties

(2) memory impairment

(3) excessive fatigue

(4) headache

(5) dizziness


Criteria for BDS:

(1) >= 3 symptoms in one or more of the 4 organ groups

(2) The patient’s daily life is affected by symptoms (some degree of impairment).

(3) No other diagnoses can explain the findings.


If 3 or 4 of the 4 organ groups are affected then it is termed multi-organ BDS. This is often more severe than when only 1 or 2 of the organ groups are affected.


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