A new study reveals that irritable bowel syndrome is significantly more common in those who also suffer from hayfever or allergic skin conditions such as eczema.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal disorder in the developed world with up to 20% of the population affected to some degree. The cause(s) of IBS are still poorly understood with stress, heightened pain perception, hypersensitivity of the gut, bacterial infection and food intolerences all suggested.

Adults who suffer from various allergies report a high incidence of IBS, suggesting a link between the two. Some research has confirmed that allergen exposure may trigger IBS symptoms in some patients.

Now researchers at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, in the United States have studied the frequency with which this occurs. Their results are published this month in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Dr. Mary C. Tobin and colleagues surveyed 125 adults and found that the likelihood of them having IBS was significantly higher in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hayfever) and allergic eczema. Those with hayfever were 2.67 times more likely to suffer from IBS than healthy individuals and for those with allergic eczema the chances were even higher at 3.85 times.

The researchers also found that asthma and IBS were reported by 12 of 41 patients (29 percent), a similar figure to previous study findings.

Furthermore it was revealed that people suffering from depression were 2.56 times more likely to have IBS than the general population.

"The reported presence of allergic dermatitis was highly correlated to the presence of IBS in our population," Tobin and her team wrote. "In atopic disease, allergic dermatitis is the first step of the atopic march. In early childhood, AE (allergic eczema) is frequently associated with gastrointestinal dysfunction and food allergy. A clinical history of AE may be a useful marker for patients with gut hypersensitivity and atopic IBS."

The researchers propose that "this subgroup of IBS (atopic IBS) be considered separately from patients with IBS without atopic symptoms, because they may have distinct pathophysiologic features and may benefit from specific therapeutic interventions."

Source: Rush University Medical Center



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