Is there a Connection Between Allergies and Asthma?

Is there a Connection Between Allergies and Asthma?

Asthma and allergies affect 1 in 13 people in the U.S. You might be wondering what connection there is between allergy and asthma other than the fact that it makes you feel lousy. They do have a relationship and often occur together.

Allergens affect people differently. The allergens that can cause watery eyes and sneezing in one person can cause a severe asthma attack in another.

The problem is that allergens are all around us; it is vital that you know what triggers your asthma attacks and allergies. Then you can be better placed to stop an attack.

Allergies

The nature of our immune systems is to protect us from harmful substances. You will get an allergic reaction when your body tries to protect you from harmless substances like food, dust, pollen, or medication.

Your immune system releases IgE antibodies, which trigger some reactions that are commonly associated with allergies. These symptoms can show themselves in the sinuses, lungs, and skin.

The common types of allergies are:

  • Dermatitis
  • Hives
  • Hay fever
  • Eczema
  • Asthma (allergic asthma)
  • Conjunctivitis

Asthma

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in America. It can make breathing become uncomfortable and difficult. In severe cases, it can cause anaphylaxis which, if not taken care of, can lead to death.

It is important to note that you might have allergies but not asthma, or you can have asthma without allergies. The allergens, though, can trigger the allergic or asthmatic symptoms and, in others, asthmatic attacks. This is what is known as allergic asthma.

There are two types of asthma: allergic and non-allergic asthma. In non-allergic asthma, the triggers can be medication, stress, smoke, cold air, and infections.

The common symptoms are:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath

Causes

It has not yet been clearly established why there are people who have asthmatic attacks, and others do not. There is a probability that genes play some role.

For this reason, some people respond differently to specific known treatments. This is why a skilled allergy doctor can know what to do in such scenarios.

Here are some of the common allergens:

  • Mold
  • Dust mites
  • Cockroaches
  • Pollen
  • Pet dander

When these allergens are inhaled or injected, your immune system will release IgE. The muscles in your airways become constricted, and then mucus gets produced, causing the airways to narrow further.

Is There a Connection?

There are cases where asthma and allergies are connected. In both scenarios, breathing is difficult. They can be both triggered by the same allergens such as pollen, mold, and dust. This is why there is allergy-induced asthma.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms when you visit our allergy doctor. Then our doctor will diagnose the impact on your airways by conducting respiratory function tests. There can be skin tests that will be done to see whether you react to specific allergens.

The tests done for allergic asthma is different from non-allergic asthma because allergens trigger the symptoms that are experienced.

It will be ascertained whether you have allergic asthma when the test comes back positive for allergens. If you also have allergic reactions when exposed to these allergens, then the results will help our doctor confirm whether you have allergic asthma or not.

Treatment and Management

The medications that are currently available, target either allergies or asthma. Although the procedures for asthma and allergies are not the same, there are instances where the treatments overlap.

You can only manage the symptoms of asthma, but you cannot cure it yet. Prevention is also possible using various drugs.

Asthma treatment can be classified into two groups:

    • Long-term relief – focuses on preventing asthma attacks and managing chronic asthma. The medication will take some time before they kick in, but they stay much longer than quick-relief drugs. Some of the medications used are combination inhalers, inhaled corticosteroids, and leukotriene modifiers.
    • Quick-relief – focuses on the treatment and prevention of asthma attacks. These are also known as ‘emergency relief.’ Some of the medications used are oral corticosteroids and intravenous corticosteroids.

Other treatments can be used for the treatment of allergies and allergic asthma-like immunotherapy. In immunotherapy, small doses of allergens are introduced in your body. This will make your body build up a tolerance toward the allergens.

You need to know the allergens that trigger your asthma and allergy symptoms. Work with our Dr. Rishi at Arizona Allergy Associates, so as you can find the treatment that works best for you.