Older age and allergy – is this an issue?

Authors: I. Krčmová;  B. Král
Published in: Čes Ger Rev 2010; 8(1-2): 40-44


Even though the onset of allergic rhinitis and allergic bronchial asthma is usually being linked to childhood, this may not always be the case. The prevalence of allergic diseases reported in older age patients is about 5%. Allergic diseases in patients above 65 years of age include more than just the respiratory tract disorders. Allergic skin reactions, allergic drug intolerance and allergic reactions to insect bites are among the most frequent complaints. Inhalation allergy testing in a population of patients above 80 years of age resulted in positive prick tests in as many as 7% of the senior population. Allergic rhinitis associated with mucosal eosinophilic inflammation is a local sign of a systemic allergic disorder. This is a high risk immunopathological state particularly with respect to potential development of bronchial asthma; this is why it is imperative to refer an older patient with rhinitis for pulmonary function assessment. Older age bronchial asthma phenotype is not essentially different even though immunosenescence modifies the picture of bronchial asthma. Natural loss of respiratory muscle tone, increased rigidity of thoracic cage and a reduction of lung elasticity in older age all have a negative effect on the course of bronchial asthma. Stepwise approach to pharmacological asthma management requires continuous anti-inflammatory as well as bronchodilator treatment. We should aim for a simple regimen with no more than twice daily dosing. Important is the choice of inhalation agents and frequent inspections of the inhalation technique.

Key words:
allergic diseases – bronchial asthma – older age


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Geriatrics General practitioner for adults
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