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Asthma Appears More Common in Opioid Dependent Patients

In an abstract presented at the 2019 AAAAI Annual Meeting, researchers explained that the prevalence of asthma in opioid dependent patients is greater than the national prevalence of asthma. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the national prevalence of asthma is 8.3%. The study found that prevalence of asthma in opioid dependent patients was 17.2%. 

“Opioid drugs such as morphine can directly activate the release of a substance called histamine from cells, specifically mast cells, in our body. Histamine is involved in allergic reactions and contributes to itching, hives, and swelling. Since more than half of asthma is allergic in nature, we postulated that opioids may be linked to asthma,” said author Roshni Naik, MD. “While some studies have shown that opioid medication can help with cough and shortness of breath in heart disease and advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, other studies have shown that opioids such as heroin worsen asthma. We hypothesized that there is higher prevalence of asthma among patients with opioid dependence who are addicted or dependent on prescription pain killers or heroin.”

The study was conducted by analyzing secondary data of opioid dependent adults receiving acute care at Kings County Hospital Center in New York City between 2013 and 2017 of patients aged 18 to 79 years. —Edan Stanley

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