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Asthma Linked With Shingles

Asthma Linked With Shingles

Previous research has suggested that children with asthma are at increased risk for developing herpes zoster (shingles or zoster), but this association has not been assessed in adults. Recent estimates show that asthma affects up to 17% of the United States population, and shingles affects nearly 1 million Americans every year, particularly the older adult population. For a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Young J. Juhn, MD, MPH, and colleagues sought to determine whether or not asthma is associated with an increased risk of zoster in older adults.   Making the Link Prior to the current study, Dr. Juhn and colleagues found that asthma was linked to an increased risk of various respiratory infections, including community-acquired pneumonia, whooping cough, and ear infections. “Although this research was helpful, it didn’t explain whether the associations were due to airway structure or issues surrounding immune function,” says Dr. Juhn. “For the new study, we analyzed the association between asthma and zoster, which is not an airway infection, in order to help determine the epidemiologic relationship between asthma and the risk of zoster.” For the analysis, researchers compared the frequency of asthma among adults aged 50 or older with zoster with that of age- and gender-matched controls who did not have a history of zoster. Asthma status was based upon predetermined criteria rather than having physicians diagnose the disease using ICD-9 codes or self-reported asthma status, according to Dr. Juhn. Of the 371 patients with shingles, 23% had a history of asthma, compared with a rate of 15% that was observed among the 742 control subjects, Dr. Juhn...
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