COPD patients who also suffer from allergic disease have an increased risk of exacerbations and higher levels of respiratory symptoms, according to new research online ahead of print in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

For the cohort study, investigators reviewed data on 296 COPD patients with an allergic phenotype, which was defined as self-reported doctor-diagnosed hay fever or allergic upper respiratory symptoms. Those who met the criteria were significantly more likely to wheeze, have chronic cough, and have chronic phlegm and had a significantly increased risk of experiencing a COPD exacerbation requiring medical attention.

In a separate cohort, of 77 COPD patients, the 23 patients with allergic sensitization (determined by immunoglobulin E testing) were significantly more likely to wheeze, to experience nighttime awakening due to cough, and to have COPD exacerbations requiring antibiotic treatment or an acute visit to the doctor.

“The presence of an allergic phenotype is associated with increased risk of lower respiratory symptoms and respiratory exacerbations among individuals with COPD,” the authors concluded. They also noted that because “allergic symptoms can cause morbidity in anyone, regardless of whether or not they have COPD, we would urge clinicians to remember to not ignore allergic symptoms in their patients with COPD.