In Australia, it is estimated 10% of the population has asthma and between 15-20% has allergic rhinitis. Over 75% of individuals with asthma suffer from coexisting allergic rhinitis, and approximately 10% of individuals with allergic rhinitis, have concurrent asthma (NACA, 2012).
Asthma and allergies are closely linked.
– Allergens are the most common of all asthma triggers.
– Unmanaged allergic rhinitis is commonly associated with asthma exacerbation and worse asthma control among asthmatic children and adults.
– Allergic rhinitis is an independent risk factor for the development of allergic asthma in previously non-asthmatic children and adults.
Ensuring allergies are properly managed is therefore very important within the management of allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma.
Liu et al. (2014) performed a study to investigate the relationship between house dust mite allergy, allergic rhinitis and asthma. Management of house dust mite allergy with allergen-specific immunotherapy was demonstrated to effectively reduce asthma symptoms, medication use and allergen-specific airway hyper-responsiveness in patients with allergic asthma. Among patients suffering allergic rhinitis without previous asthma symptoms, immunotherapy reduced the risk symptoms progressed to allergic asthma (Liu et al., 2014).
Given the close association between allergic rhinitis and asthma, it is important to determine whether or not allergies are contributing to an individual’s symptoms. Skin prick testing and blood tests for allergen specific antibodies are the primary methods for the identification of allergic sensitivities when rhinitis or asthma is suspected to be allergy-induced.
Liu et al. 2014 House Dust Mite Allergy and Associated Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy in Allergic Asthma. Immunome Research 11,1, 1-6.
National Asthma Council Australia [NACA]. 2012. Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma: Information Paper for Health Professionals. Accessed August 14, 2015, http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/uploads/publication/allergic-rhinitis-asthma-hp.pdf