Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Allergy

Studies have determined a link between allergy and IBS; 20-65% of IBS patients attribute their symptoms to an adverse food reaction.While 5-10% of the population suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), very few know what is actually causing it. Most times, people are diagnosed with IBS after tests for ulcers, reflux, and structural issues come back negative. After enough suffering and aching from the various symptoms, sometimes an allergist is added to the equation, and it’s then that the relationship between IBS and allergy is recognized.

Studies have determined a link between allergy and IBS, stating that that 20-65% of IBS patients attribute their symptoms to an adverse food reaction, and those who experience atopic allergy symptoms are 3.2x more likely to have IBS.

IBS due to allergy can come in two forms:

  • Food sensitivity can cause IBS because as a food may create symptoms, like a rash, on the outside of the body, it can cause irritation on the inside, too. If a patient feels additional symptoms on top of those typically associated with IBS, it’s likely related to food sensitivity. For example, moodiness, headache, or tiredness can all be a signal.
  • Environmental allergies can certainly cause IBS symptoms for individuals, too. When symptoms get worse during certain times of the year, environmental allergies are often to blame. That’s because when pollen is breathed in, it can move to the bowel and cause irritation in the digestive tract.

Because of the unexpected onset of symptoms and nature of IBS, people do have a considerable amount of morbidity because of the disease. The lack of effective medicine to tame symptoms can often cause patients to miss school, work or family functions; in fact, studies show that those who suffer from IBS miss, on average, 13.4 days of work each year.

There is a solution. Patients can complete allergy testing in order to determine the allergen that’s upsetting IBS symptoms. From there, sublingual immunotherapy can be used to work towards building allergic tolerance, and hopefully lead to an increased quality of life and fewer moments missed.