New Study Links Asthma to Allergies in Adults
Posted on Apr 22, 2013
Almost 19 million adults have asthma. More than eight percent of adults and almost ten percent of children have asthma, which makes the respiratory disease one of the most common disabilities in the United States.
Doctors know that 60 to 80 percent of children who have asthma also have allergies, but it was believed that allergies are less common in adults with asthma, especially older adults. A recent study finds that this isn’t true. Contrary to popular opinion, most older adults with asthma have at least one allergy.
The study was published in the April issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Paula J. Busse, M.D., from the Division of Clinical Immunology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City led a team of researchers that analyzed the medical records of 2,573 people included in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They compared immunoglobulin E–mediated sensitization rates in adults with asthma in two age groups: 20-40 and 55 and older.
Patients age 20-40:
- 1,623 patients
- 108 with physician-diagnosed asthma
- 75% were sensitive to at least one allergen
- 60 % were allergic to at least one indoor allergen
- 53% were allergic to at least one outdoor allergen
- Patients with asthma were 3.5 times more likely to have allergies than patients in the same age group without asthma.
- Most common allergies: dog (50%), dust mite (45%)
Patients age 55 and older:
- 1,623 patients
- 43 with physician-diagnosed asthma
- 65% were sensitive to at least one allergen
- 50% were allergic to at least one indoor allergen
- 39% were allergic to at least one outdoor allergen
- Patients with asthma were 3 times more likely to have allergies than patients in the same age group without asthma.
- Most common allergies: dust mite (36%), rye grass (33%), cats (27%), dog (24%), cockroaches (11%)
The differences between the two groups were not statistically significant.
These findings are important because they may lead to better diagnosis and treatments of asthma. Asthma is often not diagnosed well in older adults, and many elderly asthma sufferers go untreated or under-treated. More than 3,400 people die from asthma each year; better treatment could prevent many of these deaths.
We are glad to hear of these new findings and wish researchers the best of luck in bettering treatment for asthma sufferers.