Indexed on: 31 Jul '13Published on: 31 Jul '13Published in: PloS one
Atopic diseases, including allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis and asthma, are common diseases with a prevalence of 30-40% worldwide and are thus of great global public health importance. Allergic inflammation may influence the immunity against infections, so atopic individuals could be susceptible to respiratory infections. No previous population-based study has addressed the relation between atopy and respiratory infections in adulthood. We assessed the relation between atopic disease, specific IgE antibodies and the occurrence of upper and lower respiratory infections in the past 12 months among working-aged adults.A population-based cross-sectional study of 1008 atopic and non-atopic adults 21-63 years old was conducted. Information on atopic diseases, allergy tests and respiratory infections was collected by a questionnaire. Specific IgE antibodies to common aeroallergens were measured in serum. Adults with atopic disease had a significantly increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI; including acute bronchitis and pneumonia) with an adjusted risk ratio (RR) 2.24 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.43, 3.52) and upper respiratory tract infections (URTI; including common cold, sinusitis, tonsillitis, and otitis media) with an adjusted RR 1.55 (1.14, 2.10). The risk of LRTIs increased with increasing level of specific IgE (linear trend P = 0.059).This study provides new evidence that working-aged adults with atopic disease experience significantly more LRTIs and URTIs than non-atopics. The occurrence of respiratory infections increased with increasing levels of specific IgE antibodies to common aeroallergens, showing a dose-response pattern with LRTIs. From the clinical point of view it is important to recognize that those with atopies are a risk group for respiratory infections, including more severe LRTIs.