Study links asthma to peanut allergy

Asthma-Inhaler_wPeanuts_BLOGA new study suggests that children who have asthma may not realize they also have a peanut allergy, since symptoms for both conditions — including shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing — are so similar.

According to a recent article, the study looked at the records of 1,500 children from the pediatric respiratory clinic at Toledo’s Mercy Children’s Hospital and found that one in 10 children tested positive for peanut sensitivity, but 53% of the children and their families did not know or suspect they might have an allergy.

“Many of the respiratory symptoms of a peanut allergy can mirror those of an asthma attack, and vice versa,” lead author on the study, Robert Cohn, said in the article. “This study demonstrates children with asthma might benefit from a test for peanut sensitivity, especially when control of wheezing and coughing is difficult to achieve.”

Cohn added that if a doctor or a parent suspects a food allergy in a child who has asthma, they should definitely consider doing an allergy test, even if they are certain that the child is not allergic to peanuts. The child could be sensitive to other food products, the researchers said in the article.

Several past studies have found that those who have asthma are also at a greater risk for developing food allergies. Also, those with food allergies who have asthma as well are more likely to experience severe allergic reactions because their airways are already prone to respond by narrowing, becoming inflamed and developing mucus. This can lead to coughing and wheezing and in serious cases, anaphylaxis.

“Children with asthma and food allergy together are at increased risk of a severe asthma attack and so should be monitored carefully to keep their asthma under control,” Cohn said in the article.

Asthma currently affects approximately 25.9 million Americans and one in 11 Europeans. While it has become a very common condition, Dr. Samantha Walker, a specialist at Asthma UK, said the illness is very complex and is still somewhat of a mystery to the experts.

According to Dr. Walker, many patients who have been diagnosed with a peanut allergy can still eat peanuts without having any health symptoms, which is why many of the children tested in the new study did not know they were allergic to peanuts. She also stated that more research is needed to fully understand the connection.

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