Irritable bowel syndrome is currently considered the most common functional gastrointestinal disorder. In fact, it affects one in ten people. In other words, at least 10% of the individuals in the population should be affected by it.
However, its common symptoms like abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and / or constipation are highly stigmatized in society. For this reason, many times those who suffer from it do not consult a doctor and, as a result, do not receive an appropriate diagnosis.
Now, to improve diagnostic capabilities, Dr. Jessica Sjölund, from the Institute of Medicine of the University of Gothenburg, together with her colleagues from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, began an investigation on the relationship between asthmatic or allergic children and the development of irritable bowel syndrome during adolescence. This is because knowing a possible early indicator of the disease (or at least one common comorbidity) could increase the chances of its diagnosis.
About asthma, allergies and irritable bowel
Sjölund’s research was presented this Monday at UEG Week Virtual 2020. The scientists presented the study as: ‘Allergy-related diseases during childhood and risk of irritable bowel syndrome at age 16: A Swedish birth cohort study’.
Just as the name implies, he analyzed 16-year-old adolescents with confirmed irritable bowel syndrome and their health history. The research recorded whether they had asthma, allergic rhinitis, eczema and food hypersensitivity during their growth. Specifically, they recorded the health reports of their 1, 2, 4, 8, 12 and 16 years. Among these, the most significant link was found between health manifestations at 12 and the incidence of the syndrome at 16.
Almost 50% of adolescents with the syndrome had health complications in childhood
The research, as we can see, focused on various children’s health problems. However, the results brought the researchers’ eyes to two specific points. On the one hand, adolescents with irritable bowel syndrome were almost twice as likely to have suffered from asthma in childhood than the healthy control group. The former showed an incidence of almost 12% while the latter remained at 6%. For their part, food hypersensitivity allergies occurred in childhood in more than 40% of the adolescents in the sample.
“The associations found in this large study suggest that there is a shared pathophysiology between common allergy-related illnesses and irritable bowel syndrome in adolescents,” Sjölund explained.
After analyzing and surveying the 2,770 volunteers, the researchers finally enjoyed confirmation that had previously been vague:
“We knew that allergy and immune dysregulation had been suggested to play a role in the development of irritable bowel syndrome, but previous studies on allergy-related diseases and irritable bowel syndrome are conflicting,” he continued.
Thanks to this new information, the researchers determined that new treatments could be developed to address irritable bowel syndrome. Since, if more research continues to link it to immune dysregulation, then it will be clear that one way to combat it will be by attacking that other problem first.
However, at the moment, only a coexistence relationship between the pathologies has been determined. Therefore, if you really want to open a path for the treatment or diagnosis of one through the other, it will be necessary first to check their cause-effect relationship with more experiments.