Lung Disease- Risk Factor For Developing IBD?

  • Many patients report that it can be very hard to get an accurate diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  It can be months or, in the worst cases, years before an accurate diagnosis is made.  This is due in part to the fact that IBD symptoms can mimic many other conditions like stomach bugs, ulcers or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

    There are several risk factors that increase the possibility of developing IBD.  Some of these risk factors include:


    IBD is most frequently diagnosed between the ages of 15-35 years old.


    Both genders can develop IBD but women do develop it more frequently then men.

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    Family History:

    Up to 25% of people with a IBD also have a family history of the disease.  Remember, that means a huge portion of people have no family history of the disease.


    IBD is most common in Caucasians but it can be seen in any race.  Jewish people of Eastern European decent, or Ashkenazi Jews, are up to 5 times more likely to develop Crohn's.


    If you currently smoke, STOP!  Smoking not only makes it more likely to develop IBD but it makes the disease harder to treat as well.


    Overuse of antibiotics also seems to play a role in the development of IBD due to its disruption of healthy gut bacteria.  More information on this phenomenon is discussed in my post, "Antibiotic Overuse and Crohn's Disease Risk".

    Autoimmune Disease:

    Anyone who is dealing with one autoimmune disease is at a slightly higher risk for developing another one.  Many people frequently deal with more than one autoimmune condition at a time.

    New information discovered in research published this month by the European Respiratory Journal also indicated that people who have lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at a higher risk for developing IBD.  Conducted between 2001 and 2006 the study examined almost 300,000 people through their health database.  Study subjects with asthma had a 27% higher incidence of Crohn's Disease and COPD patients had a 55% higher incidence.  In Ulcerative Colitis the findings showed only a 30% increase in incidence for the subjects who had COPD (1).

    Previous studies have also linked lung diseases and IBD but they did not have concrete data as to the actual increase in incidence.  While it is not clear exactly why these two types of disease seem to be linked it may be due to similar inflammatory responses or environmental factors.  Whatever the reasons, knowing that the two conditions may be linked can help physicians to diagnose and treat IBD more quickly in these patients.

    In the future it would be beneficial to see studies determining specific links to IBD that could potentially be controlled for to limit the development of this painful disease.

Published On: December 10, 2014