Allergies and asthma are diseases that affect individuals of all ages, and their prevalence is comparable in all age groups. As age demographics in the United States and other countries shift to greater proportions and numbers of patients in the “elderly” categories, it is becoming increasingly important for clinicians to become aware of the impact of aging on a variety of diseases. Allergy and asthma are recognized as inflammatory disorders, and there are data demonstrating that age-related changes in immune function can have a significant impact on these disorders.

Occasionally allergies make their initial appearance in the elderly. Asthma is a clinical diagnosis that is characterized by airway inflammation in association with reversible airflow obstruction and bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and it has an estimated prevalence of 8 to 10% across all age groups. This article examines the available data regarding the interplay of the aging process with allergic disease and asthma and discusses the diagnosis and management of asthma in older patients.

It is estimated that the North America’s older population will increase by 75% between 2010 and 2030. In addition, it is known that the incidence of immediate (type 1) allergy is increasing worldwide. Despite this fact, there is a lack of research on the incidence and prevalence of allergic sensitization in the nonpediatric population. An interesting and related fact is that the majority of American board-certified allergists have pediatric training.

One study estimated the prevalence of atopic diseases to be more than 4% after the age of 60.

Consequently, it is important not to omit the differential diagnosis of allergy in older patients with symptoms such as conjunctivitis and rhinitis

 

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