Allergies and asthma are diseases that affect individuals of all ages, and their prevalence is comparable in all age groups. As age demographics in the United States and other countries shift to greater proportions and numbers of patients in the “elderly” categories, it is becoming increasingly important for clinicians to become aware of the impact of aging on a variety of diseases. Allergy and asthma are recognized as inflammatory disorders, and there are data demonstrating that age-related changes in immune function can have a significant impact on these disorders.

Occasionally allergies make their initial appearance in the elderly. Asthma is a clinical diagnosis that is characterized by airway inflammation in association with reversible airflow obstruction and bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and it has an estimated prevalence of 8 to 10% across all age groups.