Allergy: a systemic disease? The HUNT and Young–HUNT study, Norway.

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Abstract

A systemic nature of allergic diseases has been hypothesized. As part of this discussion, we studied if adolescent allergic wheeze and increasing combinations of allergic organ involvements (lung, nose and skin) would also increase the reporting of other health problems (headache, muscle pain and abdominal pain). In addition, we studied if parental asthma was associated with adolescent clustering of allergic expressions and if parental asthma with additional health problems (headache or muscle pain) was associated with adolescent reporting allergy in combination with headache, muscle pain and abdominal pain. Adolescents 13–19 yr (n = 8817, 89%) participated in the Young–HUNT study, Norway, 1995–97. Parental data on asthma were eligible in n = 5620. Health and lifestyle were measured by questionnaires and interviews. Associations with additional health problems were significantly strengthened with combinations of wheeze and other allergic expressions. Odds Ratio for associations ‘wheeze only’, ‘wheeze and rhinitis’ and ‘wheeze, rhinitis and eczema’ were for headache 2.1, 3.4 and 3.7; for muscle pain 2.8, 3.2 and 4.9; for abdominal pain 3.6, 4.0 and 4.9. All p for trend were <0.010. Similar results were obtained when studying allergic wheeze; p for trend <0.001. Parental asthma was associated with clustering of adolescent allergic expressions, and parental asthma with headache or muscle pain was significantly associated with reported allergy combined with similar health problems in their offspring. The results indicate that allergy may be expressed beyond organs commonly viewed as part of an allergic disease, and hence may support a hypothesis of a systemic nature of allergic diseases.

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