, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 1-22

Complexities of Diagnosis and Treatment of Allergic Respiratory Disease in the Elderly

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Abstract

Atopic diseases such as rhinitis and asthma are relatively common in children and young adults. However, many patients aged >65 years are also affected by these disorders. Indeed, the literature suggests that between 3–12% and 4–13% of individuals in this age range have allergic rhinitis and asthma, respectively. However, these numbers are most likely underestimates because atopic diseases are frequently not considered in older patients. The diagnosis of both allergic rhinitis and asthma in older patients is more difficult than in younger patients because of a wide differential diagnosis of other diseases that can produce similar symptoms and must be excluded. Furthermore, treatment of these disorders is complicated by the potential for drug interactions, concern about the adverse effects of medications, in particular corticosteroids, and the lack of drug trials specifically targeting treatment of older patients with allergic rhinitis and asthma.