THE COMMON allergic respiratory diseases are discussed first in this primer because of their clinical importance. Although both rhinitis and asthma can occur without a recognized allergic mechanism, IgE-mediated inflammation is an important consideration in these diseases and is a critical consideration in the differential diagnosis of both entities. It is estimated that 35 million Americans have asthma and other allergic diseases. That this group of diseases is an important health burden can be seen from figures compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics. For example, approximately 9% of all patients seeking medical care at a physician's office do so for one of the common allergic diseases.
Furthermore, among chronic illnesses of childhood, asthma is the most frequent cause of school absenteeism. Of the 35 million Americans with allergic disease, an estimated 8.9 million suffer from asthma with or without hay fever, 14.7 million have hay fever alone, and
Mathews KP. Respiratory Atopic Disease. JAMA. 1982;248(20):2587–2610. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330200011010
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