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, which can make this spring season particularly bothersome.
The study, which is published in the April issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), found that an astonishing 75 percent of asthmatic adults aged 20- to 40-years-old, and 65 percent of asthmatic adults aged 55 years and older, have at least one 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 allergist Paula Busse, MD, lead study author. "These findings are important, and can help lead to proper diagnosis and treatment."
A total of 2,573 adults were studied in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). A panel of 19 allergens was used to detect allergy among asthmatics.
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," said 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 which is also on the rise. Is the link between asthma and allergies a reason?
"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."