Respiratory system allergic airway diseases are the most common chronic diseases.
Allergic rhinitis, for instance, affects 10–50% of people globally. Asthma is the most common respiratory disease worldwide, affecting over 350 million people. Importantly, allergies and conditions like allergic rhinitis and asthma often occur together, with research suggesting that 38% of reported allergic rhinitis sufferers also have asthma. Reports indicate nasal symptoms in patients with asthma are as high as 85%.
In most parts of the world, allergists can manage their patient’s asthma and allergies, but understanding their connection is essential to effective therapy.
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World Allergy Week on 5–9 June is focused on raising awareness about this connection, educating both patients and physicians to better understand the link between asthma and allergy and how to manage them simultaneously.
touchRESPIRATORY Editorial Board Member, Ronald A. Strauss, notes that there have been
“… significant advances in treating asthma with the use of inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting beta-agonists, montelukast, and prednisone, as well as a number of biologics, many of which address a specific phenotype…”.
But, he insists, from his personal experience, “…there are undoubtedly a significant number of patients with intermittent or even chronic cough, wheezing, and dyspnea who are not appropriately diagnosed with asthma.”
Considering the risks upper airway diseases pose to people with asthma, a greater awareness is needed to avoid everyday situations in which, Ronald A. Strauss notes, “patients who present with a cough frequently escape diagnosis and, therefore, are not treated at all or inappropriately at times with antibiotics.”
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Therefore, avoiding these common situations requires the clinician to acknowledge specific symptoms as potentially asthmatic during examination.
Ronald A. Strauss highlights that where the patient has an intermittent or chronic cough, the following indicators precipitating the cough might suggest asthma:
- Ice cream
- Cold drinks
- Exposure to cold air
He also adds: “… a prolonged cough following an upper respiratory infection which is usually viral, thus obviating the need for antibiotics irrespective of the color of the sputum.”
The problem is that patients with symptoms like these are commonly diagnosed with intermittent or chronic bronchitis and/or pneumonia – frequently not confirmed by chest x-ray.
Greater awareness is needed to affect correct diagnoses because, as Ronald A. Strauss stresses:
“Patients presenting like this would benefit from a methacholine challenge, which goes a long way towards making the diagnosis of asthma, and thus the patient can be treated appropriately with improved quality of life. Since cough-variant asthma occurs in up to 20% of patients, this type of patient is clearly quite common.”
Therefore, with correct asthma diagnosis and better recognition of its links with allergies, patients can learn to avoid airborne allergen triggers like pollens, moulds and animal dander. Combined with effective modern therapies, patients can live a happier life where they breathe better.
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touchRESPIRATORY supports World Allergy Week with its goal to bring greater awareness to patients and clinicians on the connections between asthma and allergies. Learn more about asthma and allergies by diving into our library of video interviews, conference highlights, journal articles, and clinical trial updates.
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