The overlap of atopy and functional gastrointestinal disorders among 23 471 patients in primary care

M. P. Jones*, M. M. Walker, A. C. Ford, N. J. Talley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Background Activation of the immune system has been demonstrated in atopy and functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs). Previous data from our group have suggested a connection between immune dysregulation, FGIDs and mood disorders. Aim To investigate if these data translate to clinical practice and examine connections from the perspective of FGIDs to determine whether atopy and FGIDs are connected via mood disorders. Methods Evidence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional dyspepsia (FD) and constipation was sought from the medical records of 30 000 primary care records over a minimum 5 year period. The same records yielded diagnoses of four atopic conditions (asthma, eczema, allergic rhinitis/hay fever and conjunctivitis). Results Atopic conditions were found in excess among all FGID groups considered when compared with controls. In the groups with IBS alone (OR = 1.43, 1.29-1.58), FD alone (OR = 1.41, 1.26-1.58) and those with multiple FGIDs (OR = 1.92, 1.75-2.12) there was elevated prevalence of asthma compared with controls without a FGID. Across disorders the excess was generally highest among patients diagnosed with multiple FGIDs (rhinitis/hay fever OR = 3.74, 3.32-4.20; conjunctivitis OR = 3.00, 2.49-3.62) and was only partly explained by a common association between both FGIDs and atopic conditions with mood disorders, although not for every atopic/FGID combination (rhinitis/hay fever OR = 2.60, 2.29-2.96, conjunctivitis OR = 2.34, 1.90-2.87). Conclusions Irritable bowel syndrome, functional dyspepsia and constipation share an association with atopy that is only partly explained via a common connection with mood disorders. These data have important implications for understanding both the pathophysiology of functional gastrointestinal disorders and development of new treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-391
Number of pages10
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


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