Asthma, atopic dermatitis, nasal polyps, eosinophilic esophagitis, food and environmental allergies, aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease, are some of the type 2 inflammatory diseases. During the digital encounter The Type 2 Inflammation Connection, organized by Sanofi, addressed the connection that exists between them and the possibility of suffering more than one at the same time.
35% of people with severe asthma also suffer from atopic dermatitis, while 50% of dermatitis patients have asthma. «These two diseases are very common, millions of people have these all over the world. 20 million adults and adolescents have atopic dermatitis, while 41.9 million have asthma. There are some people who even suffer from both atopic dermatitis and asthma,» explained Alexander Zink, dermatologist at the Technical University of Munich.
In addition, the doctor added that knowing the type of inflammation people have is essential to diagnose possible second pathologies. «It is very important that patients are told what type of inflammation it is because it helps discuss the symptoms of other potential co-existing diseases. People with a type of inflammation disease most likely name symptoms related to the property of others, it is important to understand the connection.»
Jennifer Austin, executive director of Global Skin Ottawa, referred to the advancement in knowledge around the connection between pathologies. «There are many who do not know that their various conditions are connected and perhaps their doctors are also not in tune with patient organizations. We are seeing a much higher level of awareness of the fusion around connectivity between these conditions.»
Sleep interruptions, increased school or work absenteeism, decreased physical activity, mood disturbances, and symptoms of unpredictable worsening are part of the impact of type 2 inflammatory diseases on people’s lives.
Living with atopic dermatitis and asthma affects the quality of life of those with it and its surroundings. Not only should they face symptoms such as persistent itching, skin lesions, shortness of breath and chest oppression, but they must also make lifestyle changes, due to the unpredictability of these types of diseases.
«There is a profound impact on your quality of life. You need much more time for daily skin care and regular doctor visits. You usually need more money because a lot of skin care products and also some therapies have to be paid privately, which is often difficult for low-income families,» Zink said.
The need to raise public awareness of skin diseases is what Austin says needs to move forward. «Some doctors think about the burden of atopic dermatitis, which is a type of eczema. We have a lot of work to do as an organization to raise awareness among the public and promote more research and development of treatments for patients living with these chronic conditions.»
There is currently very little information available on atopic dermatitis, making it even more difficult to control and care for the disease. This encouraged Karin Hafner, a dermatitis patient, to create her own website. «My goal is to provide serious and reliable information about the different treatment options for people who are affected by chronic skin disease. In my opinion it is very important that patients have a useful web address to know that they are not alone with the problem.»
In addition, Karin talked about the psychological effect these diseases cause on patients. «Every day’s social pressure is high and many affected people are embarrassed by the disease, being able to lead them to loneliness and isolation. For a long time I tried to hide my skin as much as possible. I never felt excluded, but the fact is that I always felt different from people with healthy skin. I’m not a jealous person at all, but often when I’ve seen other women with beautiful, good skin, I felt really bad for myself,» she said.
Making people feel supported is part of the role that the patient’s environment must play. Jennifer Austin explained that «it would be useful for the pewho live around them have a better understanding of how unpredictable the disease is and the effects they cause beyond the physical. It would certainly make these patients feel more supported and helped in the way they have to live their lives with this unpredictability.»
To generate this understanding is, according to Karin, it is essential to explain and talk about how you feel. «It’s a big challenge not only for the person who is suffering with the subject, it’s also for parents and couples don’t know how to provide help and support. It’s very important to talk about the disease, about your feelings and what the disease is doing to you.»
Understanding that there is a connection between type 2 inflammatory diseases and having clarity about the type you have is critical to better treatment and diagnosis.