The relationship between perceived food hypersensitivity in asthmatics, food allergen sensitization, asthma control and asthma-related quality of life has not been studied.
Our aim was to study the prevalence of perceived food hypersensitivity in a cohort of young asthmatics, its relation to food allergen sensitization, and any correlation to asthma control and asthma-related quality of life.
Perceived food hypersensitivity, as well as IgE sensitization to common food allergens, levels of exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), and blood eosinophil counts (B-Eos) were assessed in 408 subjects (211 women) with asthma, aged (mean ± SEM) 20.4 ± 0.3 years. Subjects filled out the Asthma Control Test (ACT) and the Mini Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (Mini-AQLQ). Inflammation was assessed by means of FeNO and B-Eos.
Fifty-three per cent of subjects reported food hypersensitivity. A corresponding food allergen sensitization was found in 68% of these subjects. Non-atopic subjects with perceived food hypersensitivity (n = 31) had lower ACT (19 (15 - 22) vs. 21 (20 - 23), p < 0.001) and Mini-AQLQ -scores (5.3 (4.3 - 6.1) vs. 6.1 (5.5 - 6.5), p < 0.001) than subjects with no food hypersensitivity (n = 190), despite lower levels of FeNO and B-Eos (p < 0.05).
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance
Food hypersensitivity was commonly reported among young asthmatics. In a majority of cases, a corresponding food allergen sensitization was found. A novel and clinically important finding was that non-atopic subjects with perceived food hypersensitivity were characterized by poorer asthma control and asthma-related quality of life.