Asthma And Allergies Go Hand-in-hand For Many Adults
April 2, 2013

Adult Asthma Sufferers Are Also Allergic

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

As if having a breathing difficulty weren´t bad enough, a new study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has found at least two-thirds of all adult asthma sufferers also have an allergy.

"Allergists have known the prevalence of allergies among asthmatic children is high at 60 to 80 percent, but it was thought allergies were not as common in asthmatic adults," said the study´s lead author Dr. Paula Busse, from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "These findings are important, and can help lead to proper diagnosis and treatment."

According to the team of American researchers that conducted the study, 75 percent of asthmatic adults between the ages of 20 and 40 years old have at least one allergy. For asthmatic adults 55 years and older, the percentage with an allergy dropped to 65 percent.

Using data collected from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the researchers culled information on over 2,500 adults and their sensitivity to 19 different allergens.

In the 20- to 40-year-old group, allergies to dogs (50 percent) and house dust mites (45 percent) were the most prevalent. In the older group, dust mites (36 percent), grass pollen (33 percent), cats (27 percent) and dogs (24 percent) were most common.

According to allergist Dr. Richard Weber, president of the study´s publisher, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), the study could change the way doctors and allergists look at treating adult asthmatics.

"Both asthma and allergies can strike at any age, and are serious diseases," Weber said in a statement. "Anyone who thinks they may be having symptoms of an allergy or asthma should see a board-certified allergist. Allergists are experts in diagnosing and treating both conditions."

The study could lead to increased awareness in looking at allergic triggers in older and younger asthma sufferers, experts said.

According to the ACAAI, over 50 million Americans have an allergy, a number that has risen substantially over the past few years. Weber said asthma could play a role in this rise.

"It could be one of many creating this perfect storm for allergies," said Dr. Weber. "Other factors, such as the hygiene hypothesis, climate change and an increase in awareness and education can also be reasons for this growth."

In writing about the study for Fox News, allergy specialist Dr. Clifford Bassett, from the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, said doctors and allergists should be looking into new methods to treat both asthma and allergies.

“Testing for possible allergies and subsequent counseling regarding environmental allergy exposures need to be strongly considered in older patients with asthma,” Bassett wrote. “For a long time it was considered that older patients with asthma were more likely to be characterized as being ℠non-allergic.´ It appears from this review and others, there is increasing evidence of older individuals with asthma who are more likely to have underlying allergies.

“The take-home message from this study shows an even higher number of older adults with underlying allergies, clearly a significant part of their day-to-day asthma,” Bassett concluded.