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Allergy check boost for asthma patients

Asking patients with asthma whether they suffer from allergies and giving them advice about avoiding triggers can significantly improve lung function, a new study suggests.

Researchers at St George's Hospital medical school found that skin-prick testing and a structured assessment of allergy in patients with asthma improved lung function measured 3-6 months later – with a significant jump in those who improved their FEV1 by more than 15% at their regular asthma review.

But the study of 214 patients in general practice found no difference in self-reported asthma control between those who had the skin pricks and allergy advice as well as standard care, compared with those who had standard care alone.

Study leader Carol Bobb, a researcher at St George's Hospital Medical School in London, said: ‘Allergy contributes significantly to asthma exacerbation, but avoidance of triggers is rarely addressed in detail in regular asthma reviews.'

Clin Exp Allergy 2009 28 September early online publication

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