Pollen, a trigger of allergic asthma.

Asthma and Allergies? They Cause More Than Just Sniffles

Get Your Dose of Information on Allergic Asthma Symptoms

If you have trouble breathing, have a persistent cough, or your chest feels tight, you could be at risk for asthma. More specifically, you could be at risk for allergic asthma. Therefore, we cover allergic asthma symptoms so you can know if your health is at risk.

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is an inflammatory disease in which the airways to your lungs become narrow and produce extra mucus. This makes breathing difficult and it triggers coughing and wheezing.

During normal breathing, air goes through your nose, travels down into your throat, into your airways and eventually makes it into your lungs. Asthma occurs when the linings of your airways swell on the inside and the muscles around them tighten. Excess mucus then fills the airways causing the air to be trapped. When air cannot pass through the narrow airways, you experience tightness in your chest and shortness of breath. These conditions bring on an asthma attack.

Different types of asthma are caused by different triggers. Your asthma can be classified based on symptoms, medical history, physical examination, a lung function test and an allergy test. It is important to know which type of asthma you have, to help you seek the most effective treatment.

What Is Allergic Asthma?

Allergic asthma, also known as allergy-induced asthma, is the most common type of asthma. Allergic asthma attacks happen when allergens are inhaled, causing an allergic reaction. When your body contacts an allergen, it releases chemicals called IgE antibodies. While these antibodies attempt to protect your body against the allergen, it produces symptoms like a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing and skin irritations. If you have allergic asthma, you are likely to experience additional symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and hyperventilation.

What Causes Allergic Asthma?

The cause of allergic asthma is likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors. If you have a family member with allergic asthma or another allergy disorder, it increases your risk of developing allergic asthma. However, not everyone with asthma-associated genes develops this condition.

What Triggers Allergic Asthma?

Allergens are found everywhere and can trigger allergic asthma attacks in children and adults. Common allergens that are small enough to be breathed deep into the lungs include windblown pollen from trees, grasses and weeds, dust mites, animal dander, cockroach feces, mold and fungi.

Irritants may also trigger allergic asthma. These include smoke from tobacco, smoke or soot from a fireplace, candles, incense, fireworks, air pollution, cold air, strong chemical odors or fumes, perfumes, air fresheners and other scented products. Most people have more than one kind of asthma trigger. You may undergo a skin or blood test to determine the allergens triggering your allergic asthma.

How Is Allergic Asthma Diagnosed?

It is important to know the things that trigger your allergic asthma symptoms so you can try to avoid them. The most common way to identify allergies is to have an allergy skin test or skin prick test. The doctor or nurse will make small marks in your skin using a needle containing allergen extracts. If red bumps appear in your skin, it is a sign of an allergic reaction.

Another option is an allergy blood test or immunoassay. It is done by measuring the level of IgE antibodies in the blood upon exposure to common allergens or foods that you are suspected to be allergic to.

Additional tests that may be requested in relation to your asthma include lung function tests, also called a pulmonary function test (PFT). These are known as spirometry and peak expiratory flow (PEF). Spirometry measures how much air you can breathe in and out, as well as the duration of your breathing. PEF uses a peak flow meter to measure how well you can breathe out air, in order to evaluate the lung functionality.

How to Treat Allergic Asthma

Asthma has no cure, however, it can be managed and treated. Once you have identified your triggers of allergic asthma, you can come up with a plan for managing and controlling your symptoms. Allergic asthma attacks may not always be preventable, but you may be able to make them less frequent by modifying your home and its surroundings.

These are some of the efforts you can do to control allergens:

  • You can wear a mask when doing outside work to reduce the number of particles that get into your airway.
  • If you are using an air conditioner, make sure it has a clean filter.
  • Avoid dust mites by wrapping your pillow and mattress with allergen-proof covers.
  • Wash your bedding once a week in hot water.
  • Regularly clean areas where dust can gather.
  • Have yourself checked for pet allergies and if the test is positive, keep animals away from your house.
  • Keep your kitchen and bathroom clean to prevent mold and cockroaches.

Some people with allergic asthma may need allergy and asthma medications to treat attacks. There are over-the-counter options that may help those with mild allergy symptoms. These include antihistamines, decongestants and saline nasal spray.

If your allergies are severe and are affecting your daily activities, you should see a doctor. Your doctor may prescribe medication like inhaled steroids, which fight inflammation, and bronchodilators which open your airways. Injectables are added to the regimen depending on your doctor’s treatment plan.

Beta 2 agonists, such as albuterol, are anti-asthma medications that relax the smooth muscles of the airway. These may be inhaled using a nebulizer or an inhaler. Both are used to deliver medication into the lungs. These medications provide quick relief when you are having an asthma attack.
Aside from these medications, breathing exercises may also help increase your lung capacity and decrease the symptoms of asthma. Allergy and asthma symptoms can change over time, and if that happens, it is best to see your doctor as you may need to adjust your treatment accordingly.

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