-- Randy Dotinga
THURSDAY, Dec. 30 (HealthDay News) -- A new Swedish study shows
that severe asthma seems to be more common than previously
believed. It also reports that those afflicted by it have a higher
prevalence of blocked or runny noses, a possible sign that
physicians should pay more attention to nasal congestion and
In the study, researchers surveyed 30,000 people from the west
of Sweden and asked about their health, including whether they had
physician-diagnosed asthma, took asthma medication, and if so, what
kind of symptoms they experienced. "This is the first time that the
prevalence of severe asthma has been estimated in a population
study, documenting that approximately 2 percent of the population
in the West Sweden is showing signs of severe asthma," study
co-author Jan Lotvall, professor at Sahlgrenska Academy's Krefting
Research Center, said in a news release from the University of
"This argues that more severe forms of asthma are far more common than previously believed, and that health care professionals should pay extra attention to patients with such symptoms," Lotvall added.
The researchers also found a link between severe asthma and
long-lasting nasal congestion and runny nose, which was more
prevalent in those with severe asthma compared to those with fewer
asthma symptoms. Lotvall said this means that patients who have
nasal problems -- possibly in conjunction with wheezing, shortness
of breath during exercise, and awakenings during sleep -- should be
checked for asthma.
"These findings suggest that some parts of the immune system that are activated in connection with chronic nasal problems might be linked to severe asthma, and this insight could lead to new forms of treatment in the long run," Lotvall said. "Effective treatment for troublesome nasal and sinus complaints could, in theory, reduce the risk of severe asthma, though this is something that needs further research."
The study findings were published in a recent online edition of
For more on
asthma, try the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
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