Association between irritable bowel syndrome and asthma: a meta-analysis and systematic review

Authors Farah Deshmukh, Anupama Vasudevan, Erika Mengalie.


Background Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder often seen in outpatient clinics. Diagnosing IBS is often challenging, as it frequently presents with other complicated rheumatological and psychiatric conditions. Asthma has often been associated with gastrointestinal conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease and eosinophilic esophagitis. This review and meta-analysis aimed at a better understanding of the association between the conditions.

Methods A comprehensive literature review was completed using MEDLINE and EMBASE databases through January 2019. Case-control, cross-sectional and cohort studies that evaluated the association between asthma and IBS were divided into 2 groups: the first included studies that identified patients with asthma first and then looked for the presence of IBS. The second group included studies that identified IBS patients first and then looked for the presence of asthma. Random effects meta-analysis was conducted using STATA 15.

Results The search strategy generated a total of 634 studies and 10 eligible studies (8 case-control and 2 cross-sectional) were selected for meta-analysis. Analysis showed that asthmatics have twice the risk of having IBS (pooled odds ratio [OR] 2.0, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.5-2.8), and patients with IBS have twice the risk of having asthma (pooled OR 2.2, 95%CI 1.3-3.9).

Conclusions This study highlights that the risk of asthma is considerably higher in IBS patients and vice versa. Physicians should look out for pulmonary symptoms in IBS patients and consider evaluation with spirometry when necessary. Likewise, asthmatics presenting with gastrointestinal symptoms may need consultation and evaluation for IBS.

Keywords Irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, functional disorder

Ann Gastroenterol 2019; 32 (6): 570-577

Original Articles