According to new research published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have an elevated flu risk and hospitalization for influenza, in part due to treatment with systemic corticosteroids and low vaccination rates in this population.

Researchers analyzed data on 140,480 patients with and without IBD from 2008 to 2011. They compared incidence rates for influence between both groups and conducted a nested case-control study to assess any potential independent effect of IBD medications on influenza risk.

In the IBD population, 2,963 patients had influenza with an annual incidence rate of 709.5 per 100,000 per-years. There were 1,941 patients with influenza in the non-IBD population and an annual incidence rate of 459.7 per 100,00 person-years. Patients with Crohn’s disease had a higher annual incidence rate than patients with ulcerative colitis (766.2 vs 650.2 per 100,000 person-years).

Investigators determined that patients with IBD had a 1.54-times increased influenza risk compared with patients without IBD, as well as a higher rate of hospitalizations (5.4% vs. 1.85%).

They also found that systemic corticosteroids were independently associated with influenza (OR = 1.22; 95%, 1.08–1.38).