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Have Asthma?

You Likely Have an Allergy as Well

Asthma image

Asthma is becoming an epidemic in the United States. The number of Americans diagnosed with asthma grows annually, with 26 million cur­rently affected. And according to a new study, nearly two-thirds or more of all asthmatics also have an allergy.

The study, which is published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, found that an astonishing 75 percent of asthmatic adults between 20 and 40 years of age, and 65 percent of asthmatic adults age 55 and older, have at least one allergy.

“Allergists have known [that] 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,” says allergist Paula Busse, MD, lead study author. “These findings […] can help lead to proper diagnosis and treatment.”

While asthma is frequently associ­ated with children, it is not uncommon among adults 60 years and older, affect­ing three to seven percent. This number is likely higher, however, because asthma is often underdiagnosed in older adults.

“Both asthma and allergies can strike at any age, and are serious dis­eases,” says allergist Richard Weber, MD, ACAAI president. “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.”

According to the ACAAI, more than 50 million Americans have an allergy, a number that is also on the rise. Is the link between asthma and allergies a reason for the increase?

“It could be one of many [factors] creating this perfect storm for allergies,” says 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.”

 

Those who have symptoms of asthma or allergy can get tested for free through the ACAAI Nation­wide Asthma Screening Program. Screening locations can be found at acaai.org/nasp.

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, May/June 2013.