Despite often being considered a stereotype, it is statistically true that women more often seek out medical care than men do. A recent study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology revealed that women suffering from acute asthma are treated in emergency rooms 60 percent more often than men. The study is from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and was focused on sex differences between patients and the risk of hospitalization in 2,000 emergency department patients suffering of acute asthma.
“It’s important to note the men and women whose charts we studied had certain things in common. Most had not been seen by an allergist, and had not used controller medications (inhaled corticosteroids) for their asthma. In addition, many were overweight and some were active smokers. A fairly high percentage did not have health insurance, although women had it more often than men. After adjusting for all those factors, we found that women were still 60 percent more likely to be hospitalized after being seen in an ED for acute asthma than men,” said Rose Chasm, the lead author of the study.
More studies are required in order to confirm the exact reasons for such differences, but researchers speculate that hormones, altered perception of airflow obstruction, health behavior and bronchial hyper-responsiveness might be related to this fact.
12 percent of the men and about 13 percent of women had at some point been intubated with a plastic tube in their windpipe for asthma, while 32 percent of the men and 36 percent of the women had been hospitalized for asthma. Moreover, 13 percent of the men and 16 percent of the women had been hospitalized for asthma in the last year, indicating poorly controlled asthma.
“It’s long been known that after puberty, asthma is more common in women than men. Only 10 percent of the women in this study had been seen by an allergist in the last year. Many people aren’t aware that allergists are asthma specialists, and are among the best-equipped experts to help keep asthma under control. Those who see an allergist and use controller medications find themselves in the ED much less often, and experience fewer hospitalizations related to their asthma,” said James Sublett, an allergist.
Asthma care provided by allergists seems to be associated with better patient outcomes compared to care provided by generalists, regardless of gender.