Dust is the biggest cause of allergic Asthma, followed by cockroaches

On the occasion of World Asthma Day, in India dust is the biggest cause of respiratory allergies in Indians, with men suffering more from allergen reactivity than women. The analysis was done on diagnostic test reports of 5 years from 2013 to 2017, with a sample size of more than 63,000 patients who had undergone blood IgE level checks for allergens known to cause allergic asthma across the country. While the analysis did not see significant zonal variation in allergen reactivity, it was observed that patients in younger age groups of less than 30 years, suffered more from allergen reactivity. An interesting find of the study was that across various geographies in India, as an individual allergen cockroach was the number one yielding more than 60% abnormal results.

“An allergic reaction can range from mild to severe, but irrespective ofthat, it is important that people know their allergic triggers so that thesecan be avoided. Since the laboratory testing of allergy has improvedtremendously over the last two decades, nowadays a simple blood test can throwup report on multiple allergens. As we know asthma can be caused or worsened bymany allergens, allergy testing can prove useful. In our analysis, conductedfrom the data gathered from our laboratories across India, They  identified several allergens which can betriggers for asthma. However, the mites hidden in dust were found to be themost common cause of Allergy-Induced Asthma.” 

“Allergic reaction is responsible up to 90 per cent of childhood asthmaand around 50 percent of adult asthma. It is the result of the bodies’ reactionto environmental allergens like dust, pollen, grass, insects, domesticatedanimal dander etc. which can trigger asthmatic symptoms. Peculiarly, even foodcan cause allergic asthma in children. In allergy, the body mistakenlyidentifies an otherwise harmless allergen as an invader and reactively triggersthe immune system to produce IgE class of antibodies and release variouschemicals like histamine. This can cause nasal congestion, runny nose, itchyeyes or skin reactions and in some people, asthmatic attacks.”

A recent study called “Indian Study on Epidemiology of Asthma,Respiratory Symptoms and Chronic Bronchitis (INSEARCH)” estimated that in Indiaout of the 18 million who suffer from asthma, 2.05% of these people are lessthan 15 years of age. 

The most comprehensive allergy diagnostic test portfolios in thecountry laboratories serve thousands of patients with suspected or provenallergies every month. While  all knowthat the rising level of pollution in our cities is adding to the severity ofrespiratory disorders, research shows air pollution can worsen asthma symptomstoo. As a preventive step, patients who are exposed to pollution and haveasthmatic symptoms should undergo tests to ascertain the allergens they aresensitive to “ prevention is better than cure." 

Out of 300 million people who suffer from asthmaworldwide, about 1/12th live in India from various allergens in fivemajor categories- Trees/Pollens, Food Products, Animals and Insects, Fungi, Dust and Grass.Across the spectrum of allergensresponsible for triggering asthma, the following were found to have maximumpositivity: 

1.       Trees/Pollens:Parthenium (Also known as congress grass or ragweed)

2.       Food:Wheat

3.       Mold/Fungi: A. fumigates (themost common airborne saprophytic fungi, which is known to cause diseases inimmune-deficient people and allergy in immune competent)

4.       Dust:House dust mite D. farinae

5.       Grass:Bermuda grass

6.       Animals andInsects: Cockroach, Cow dander


Across all spectrums, men were found to have the highest allergenreactivity, while dust allergy was found to be the major cause of asthmatictrigger. While there is not much variation in the percentage positivity fordust allergy, Eastern India showed the highest inclination for the same at59% followed by South and West India respectively.


Children whose parents have a history of asthma andallergic disease are at an increased risk of developing the disease.

Highest percentage of for allergic asthma was foundfor the insect allergens (24.45%) followed by dust (24.21%), grass and treepollen (20.57%), fungus (13.92%) and food allergens (9.28%) by Indian Journalof Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

The SRL analysis also showed a similar trend albeitwith a positive bias as most of the samples that were part of the report wasfrom diagnosed patients. 

Article By:  Dr B.R Das, Advisor and Mentor - R&D,  SRL Diagnostics

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