Asthma and Allergies: What’s the Connection?

Due to a connection between asthma and allergy, it can be hard to control your asthma symptoms if your allergies are not managed well. There are different types of allergies, including seasonal allergies, food allergies, pet allergies, and much more.

Majority of people think of asthma and allergies as two completely different things. Sure, both have persistent coughing as a symptom, but asthma is considered to be a serious health issue that needs regular treatment.

Link between Allergies and Asthma

Allergies

An allergy occurs when an individual’s immune system reacts to substances (allergens) in the environment that are usually harmless to most people. Examples of allergens include pollen, pet dander, house dust mites, and mold. Sensitivity to allergens can often be determined through blood or skin tests.

Asthma and Allergies: What’s the Connection?

 

Also Read: All about Asthma: its symptoms and medication

Other substances such as cigarette smoke, perfumes, and odours can also trigger asthma in some individuals, but these do not involve a reaction in the person’s defence system. These are known as non-allergic irritant triggers, and there is no blood or skin test for these triggers. Allergy is considered to be a genetic problem. Atopy is the inherited tendency to develop allergic diseases.

When people with allergic tendencies are exposed to allergens, they can develop an immune reaction that causes redness and swelling. This can then cause the following allergy symptoms and signs:

  • Skin-hives, eczema
  • Nose or eyes- allergic conjunctivitis
  • Lungs- Asthma

Asthma

Asthma is a problem of the airways in the lungs. Airways are the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. When exposed to certain asthma triggers like pollen, viruses, exercise, and cold air, the sensitive airways react. They can become inflamed, which results in the tightening of the muscles and produce excess mucus. This makes the airways narrow and makes it difficult for an individual to breathe. Common asthma symptoms may include:

  • Coughing
  • Breathing difficulty
  • A feeling of tightness in the chest
  • Wheezing

Asthma can be managed using asthma remedies. Even though, there is no cure for asthma, but with good asthma care, education, and management, asthmatic people can lead active and healthy lives.

Role of Allergy in Asthma

If you have asthma that is triggered by allergens, you may experience asthma symptoms when you:

  • Are exposed to mold
  • Visit a place where a pet lives
  • Vacuum or dust, as this causes dust mite allergens to become airborne
  • Are outdoors in early summer and late spring, when there are high levels of pollen in the air.

The problem can also be triggered by workplace related allergens such as grain and flour latex, latex and animal allergen (dander, urine).

Because of this connection between allergy and asthma, it can be hard to control the asthma symptoms if your allergies are not managed well.

Your health care specialist can check if allergy plays a role in your asthma. Your health care specialist will advise how to avoid exposure to your allergies and prescribe appropriate medicine.

Allergy test to find out environment trigger

It is necessary to find out which allergens in the environment trigger your asthma. Reducing or avoiding your exposure to these allergens is an important step in better asthma management. Your health care specialist will ask you questions to identify possible allergic triggers and perform allergy tests. Skin prick tests and blood tests are the two main allergy tests that are performed to identify antibodies to specific allergens.

Sometimes an alternative method called scratch testing is used. It is useful when greater sensitivity in the testing is required.

Being diagnosed with allergy induced asthma

If you or your child have been diagnosed with allergy induced asthma, there are several things you can expect from your medical appointment. Your health care specialist will listen to your breathing to detect signs of whistling or wheezing. He/she will ask you to breathe in and out, deeply, slowly, for several times.

Breathing exercise is a part of allergy induced asthma diagnosis with a lung test called spirometry, useful in detecting reduced lung capacity. Your health care specialist will ask you to breathe into the device called spirometer, which will measure the speed with which you exhale as well as the volume of air you inhale.

Treatment for allergy induced asthma

The first step in treating allergy-induced asthma is to treat the allergic reactions that triggered asthma. Antihistamines can be used as allergic treatment; it reduces congestion and avoid histamine reaction in your body. This may also work to reduce asthma symptoms.

Also Read: Gastroenteritis: the ailment and its symptoms

Corticosteroids are also prescribed to asthmatic patients, often in inhaled form. Theophylline is a daily pill, which can be taken by asthma sufferers to reduce inflammation in airways. By reducing inflammation, patients with allergy induced asthma may once again be able to breathe freely.

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Amelia Smith

Nutritionist, herbalist, health and medicine writer and yoga enthusiast, Amelia Smith, is a professional in the health, nutrition and diet industry.

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