An asthma comorbidity is any condition that affects someone while they have asthma. Some common asthma comorbidities include allergic conditions, anxiety, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. In some cases, asthma comorbidities can worsen a person’s asthma.

Asthma is a common respiratory condition, affecting up to 20% of people living in developed countries.

Although asthma is a chronic condition, its comorbidities range from chronic to acute conditions. This article lists the most common asthma comorbidities.

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According to a 2019 study focusing on children in India who have asthma, allergic conditions are among the most common asthma comorbidities.

Allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis, or hayfever, is the most common asthma comorbidity, occurring in around 75.8% of the 2019 study participants.

Allergic rhinitis is when allergens cause immune responses that affect the nose. This leads to symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose.

Allergic sinusitis

Allergic sinusitis occurred in around 20% of the 2019 study participants. With this condition, allergens cause an immune response that affects the sinuses.

This can cause congestion and pain, and swelling, especially around the forehead, nose, cheeks, and between the eyes.

Learn more about sinusitis.

Atopic dermatitis

The study also reported that atopic dermatitis, or eczema, occurred in around 27.3% of the 2019 study participants.

Atopic dermatitis is a skin condition that causes chronic dry skin and rashes. People who have atopic dermatitis may also have very itchy skin.

Although its underlying mechanism remains unknown, scientists believe that atopic dermatitis may be the result of an overactive immune system.

Learn about the links between asthma, eczema, and allergies.

Food allergies

Food allergies occur when someone is prone to immune responses to specific foods. They can cause itchy skin, swelling, and breathing difficulties, among other symptoms.

Food allergies occurred in around 10.5% of the 2019 study participants.

Learn about shortness of breath after eating.

Asthma is a serious condition. It can cause decreased quality of life and can sometimes be life threatening.

Children with asthma can also experience problems with mental health.

According to a 2019 study on comorbidities in children with asthma, mental health problems occurred in 71.6% of participants.

Anxiety, in particular, may commonly occur in children with asthma.

A 2019 study focusing on children with asthma found that 46.3% of the participants also had gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD).

GERD is a form of acid reflux. Acid reflux is when stomach contents, including stomach acid, move upward into the esophagus (food pipe).

GERD can be a chronic condition. Its symptoms can include heartburn, nausea, and chest pain.

According to a 2022 review, there may be a cause-and-effect relationship between asthma and GERD. This means the symptoms of one condition may contribute to and worsen the symptoms of the other.

Learn more about the link between asthma and GERD.

Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is when the vocal cords do not work correctly.

According to a 2020 study, roughly 25% of adults with asthma may also have VCD.

With VCD, an individual’s vocal cords close when they inhale instead of opening up. This causes breathing problems that can manifest as shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, or a feeling of choking.

According to a review in Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology, a common asthma comorbidity is cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVDs affect the heart, circulatory system, or both.

The review looked into the following CVD conditions:

The review authors estimate that, among individuals with asthma, CVD occurs in 3.5% of people between the ages of 18–30 years old. This figure rises to 70.4% in people who are over 65 years of age.

Learn about cardiac asthma.

Evidence suggests that various respiratory diseases are common asthma comorbidities.

For instance, a review in Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology states that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) occurs in around 17.9% of people with asthma who are over 65 years of age.

COPD causes breathing difficulties, coughing, and wheezing.

Similarly, a 2020 study states that although the exact figures remain unknown, asthma is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

OSA is when an individual stops breathing for extended periods of time whilst asleep.

Learn about asthma COPD overlap syndrome.

Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot produce enough insulin or does not process it correctly. It can make it hard for someone to manage their blood sugar level.

According to a 2020 study, people with asthma have an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. A 2021 review found similar results regarding type 2 diabetes.

Learn about the link between diabetes and asthma.

Osteoporosis is when a person has low bone density. This means bones break easily, making people with osteoporosis prone to injuries such as bone fractures.

According to a review in Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology, osteoporosis occurs at a rate of 17.9% in people with asthma who are over 65 years of age.

A review in Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology estimates that around 70% of people with asthma also have obesity. It also states that other asthma comorbidities tend to become more common with increased body weight.

Learn about the link between asthma and obesity.

There is evidence that some asthma comorbidities can make asthma symptoms worse. They may also make asthma harder to manage. These include COPD, ischemic heart disease, and stroke.

Some asthma comorbidities resemble asthma in their symptoms. For example, as a 2020 study explains, vocal cord dysfunction can mimic asthma. This means that doctors may underdiagnose this condition in people with asthma.

Diagnosing and treating asthma comorbidities could ease a person’s asthma symptoms. Given the vast number of different asthma comorbidities, treatment will vary greatly.

A person with asthma comorbidities should discuss treatment options with their doctor.

This section answers some frequently asked questions about asthma comorbidities.

Is asthma a comorbidity of COVID-19?

Not as such. However, people with asthma are more likely to experience a worse form of COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that people with asthma that is moderate to severe or uncontrolled have the highest risk of hospitalization with COVID-19.

Is asthma a comorbidity of obesity?

Yes, obesity is a common comorbidity of asthma.

A 2018 study notes that people with obesity and asthma may experience worse symptoms, a reduced response to asthma medications, and reduced quality of life.

The researchers also note that adults with obesity and asthma may experience improved asthma outcomes following weight loss.

Sometimes, an individual with asthma will develop other conditions. In children, common asthma comorbidities include allergies, anxiety, and GERD. In adults, they include obesity, vocal cord dysfunction, and cardiovascular disease.

In some cases, asthma comorbidities can worsen asthma symptoms or make the condition less manageable. Some combinations of conditions require a specialized treatment approach.