Posted at 3:57 pm on 01/21/2015 by Powlin V. Manuel MD, MBA, MS.
Identifying and managing allergies is an important step in taking care of patients with asthma; this, however, is not always incorporated into practice. Patients with asthma and allergies carry a certain type of cells of immune system known as Mast Cells in higher numbers in their bronchial tubes compared to those who do not suffer from allergies. Mast cells have a mechanism of releasing neurochemicals such as histamine in the airway on exposure to allergens, which leads to bronchospasm and an asthma attack. Research studies using recent technology to identify genes related to mast cells have shown that in certain patients with allergies, this gene is more prevalent, the patients suffered from more allergies, possed more cells related to allergy in their airway, demonstrated increased sensitivity of airway, and increased relief from using inhaled steroids (Corren et al, 2011 as cited in Wenzel SE, 2013).
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What does this mean to patients with asthma and their physicians? There are certain patients with difficult to treat asthma who needs investigation to find allergens that could make management of asthma difficult.