Thursday, February 26, 2009

Allergies blamed for some cases of irritable bowel

People with allergies appear to be more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) than do those without allergies, suggesting that the conditions may be linked in some instance, Chicago-based researchers report.
Lead investigator Dr. Mary C. Tobin told Reuters Health that \"the real hope of this study is that patients and physicians recognize the association between allergies and IBS.\"
People with IBS suffer chronic discomfort with cramping, diarrhea or constipation. The causes of IBS are unclear and there has been debate whether it is mostly due to psychological factors or biological triggers, or perhaps a combination.
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To investigate a possible connection with allergies, Tobin and her colleagues at Rush University Medical Center surveyed 125 patients: 39 were attending an allergy clinic, 36 were attending a gastroenterology clinic, and the remaining 50 were being seen at a general medicine clinic.
IBS was present in 44 percent of the patients attending the allergy clinic, similar to the rate among patients at the gastroenterology clinic (39 percent) and significantly greater than the 20 percent rate seen among general clinic attendees.
Overall, patients reporting allergic conditions such as hay fever, eczema, and asthma were three times more likely than other patients to have IBS, the investigators report in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Given these findings, the researchers suggest that patients who have typical IBS symptoms plus signs of allergies should be considered as a separate subgroup of IBS patients.
Tobin added that \"identifying the allergic triggers, both inhaled and ingested, as well as appropriate treatment of the allergies, can markedly improve the patient\'s quality of life by controlling the symptoms.\"