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Home Allergen LevelsLinked to Asthma

A new national survey found that elevated allergen levels inthe home are associated with asthma symptoms in allergic individuals,suggesting that individuals with asthma and allergiesmay get symptom relief by reducing allergen exposure insidetheir home.

For the study, the researchers used data from the NationalSurvey of Lead and Allergens in Housing to analyze factors thatcontribute to high allergen levels in homes and to determinewhether higher household allergen levels were linked with occupants?asthma status. The group surveyed the homes of nearly2500 individuals in 75 locations. The findings showed that exposureto multiple indoor allergens was common in US households,with 52% having at least 6 detectable allergens and 46%having 3 or more allergens at increased levels. Race, income,type of home, and sources of allergens also added to theincreased concentration of allergens. The study indicated thathomes with children were less likely to have high allergen levels.The findings were published in the March 2008 issue of theJournal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

Obesity ImpactsAsthma Symptoms

Obese individuals tend to experience more severe asthmasymptoms, compared with their normal-weight counterparts.The researchers suggest that the extra pounds exacerbate thecondition.

Studies have shown that obese individuals face greater oddsof developing asthma, but whether weight affects asthma severityhas been unclear. The current study included 3095 adults whowere questioned about their asthma symptoms over the previous5 years. Of the participants, one third were obese. Theresearchers found obese patients were 66% more prone toreport experiencing continuous symptoms over the past month,and 42% were more apt to have symptoms consistent withsevere, persistent asthma, compared with normal-weight adults.The patients with both obesity and asthma also needed moremedication and missed more workdays, according to findingsrecently published in Thorax.

The data connecting obesity and asthma severity are strongenough to have a bearing on asthma management, concludedthe researchers.

Oral Meds May Replace Allergy Shots

In the future, oral allergy immunotherapy, instead of injections,may be used to treat children with allergic asthma,according to a study published in Chest (March 2008).

Commonly known as allergy shots in the United States,allergy immunotherapy works in a manner similar to vaccines.Whereas this therapy can be effective, it is currentlyonly available via injections in this country, and usuallyresults in at least 1 to 2 shots a week for 3 to 6 months. TheFDA has not approved these oral medications, but the treatmentis available in Europe.

Researchers reviewed 9 studies that examined the use ofsublingual (oral) immunotherapy (SLIT) in children with asthma.A total of 441 children aged 3 to 18 who had been diagnosedwith allergic asthma were included in the 12-monthstudies. Of the participants, 232 children received oralimmunotherapy, and 209 received a placebo. The dosingschedule varied depending on the study and whetherdroplets or tablets were used. During the maintenancephase of immunotherapy, droplets or tablets were given 3times a week.

The findings indicate that the children taking SLIT had considerablyfewer symptoms and needed less asthma medication.Because not enough of the studies included measurementof lung function, the current study was unable to assesswhether SLIT affects lung function significantly. Furthermore,SLIT appeared to be better, compared with allergy shots.

Daily Asthma Meds Keep Lungs GoingDuring Exercise

A study of 100 children with exercise-induced bronchoconstrictionfound that taking asthma medication daily can helpprevent tightening of the airways with physical exertion thataffects many children with asthma, according to a study reportedin the February 2008 issue of the Journal of Allergy & ClinicalImmunology.

For the study, researchers compared the effectiveness of 4daily treatment approaches by administering 1 of the treatmentsor placebo for 4 weeks to the children. The treatmentoptions included budesonide and formoterol; budesonide andmontelukast; montelukast alone; and budesonide alone. All thechildren had a treadmill test before and after treatment.

The findings showed that all the children who received activeasthma treatment had a significant reduction in exerciseinducedbronchoconstriction, but the greatest improvementswere in the montelukast-only and montelukast-plus-budesonidegroups. The researchers concluded, "It can be argued thatadding montelukast should be recommended to achieve bettercontrol of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction in children withasthma."

F A S T F A C T : Allergic disease is the fifth leading chronic disease in the United States among all ages.

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