For people living with allergy and asthma symptoms, it’s common to wonder how much the two conditions are related.
Can allergies cause asthma and vice versa? Are there treatment options available to ease symptoms of both? What differences make these two different diagnoses? Perhaps most importantly, how can you manage these conditions together?
You can use a particular medication or take advantage of your favorite houseplants like snake plants to purify the air. Several treatments can help you manage both of these conditions and help you better understand the relationships between the two.
Similarities in Asthma Symptoms
In children and adults alike, these common respiratory conditions manifest with symptoms like chest tightness, scratchy throat, sneezing, or wheezing. Usually, those symptoms are distinct, each associated with one ailment or the other. In some cases, though, the two aren’t so clear-cut. For example, for those dealing with both allergy and asthma symptoms, you might find that the two overlap with allergies most often triggering or intensifying asthma symptoms.
The similarities in treatment may very well be the most obvious connection between these respiratory conditions. There’s a reason that an allergist may be your go-to specialist for asthma treatment. If you’re saving money with a Symbicort coupon to ease your asthma symptoms, you might find that the correct dose of Symbicort (or your preferred medication) can relieve your allergy symptoms, too.
Even home remedies like purchasing an air purifier or bringing home floor plants to improve air quality can lead to better health despite dealing with both of these diagnoses. Many treatment options–including both lifestyle changes and medicine from your local pharmacy—will help both of these conditions, whether or not the pharmaceutical company markets it as such.
Although specific treatments might ease allergies and asthma symptoms, the two conditions are not interchangeable. Perhaps most notably, the symptoms of allergies and asthma are noticeably different. Your allergies will typically cause issues like itchy eyes, runny nose, hives, and other rashes. Meanwhile, asthma symptoms include wheezing and breathlessness, chest tightness, and cough, particularly at night or at the start of the day.
Because these symptoms are so different, these conditions are all the more blatantly separate. Still, we’re left with a question: can allergies cause asthma symptoms or vice versa?
In a diagnostic sense, allergies and asthma don’t cause one another. However, symptoms of one can exacerbate the signs of the other (just like the overlap in treatments can ease one while treating the other). The most blatant example of this is a condition known as allergy-induced asthma, in which reactions to seasonal or year-round allergens cause your symptoms.
Conversely to the nonallergic variant, allergy-induced asthma symptoms are triggered by the allergens that bring on allergies, with factors like dust and pollen being some of the worst prompts. In this case, your treatment plan for one diagnosis will almost definitely ease the other, too.
So whether your pharmacist hands you Symbicort each month or your doctor suggests adding indoor plants to your bedroom to treat sinusitis symptoms, allergy-induced asthma solutions will undoubtedly relieve both conditions—if only because of their inherent relationship.
Allergy and asthma symptoms can severely impact your life, but they aren’t necessarily interchangeable. Many treatments will ease the signs of both conditions, even if they’re meant to relieve just one.
For example, your medication or indoor garden just might alleviate a broad range of respiratory symptoms, easing both allergies and asthma in one fell swoop. And, if your asthma happens to be allergy-induced, you’ll be better able to understand your diagnoses and the relationship between them, giving you all the more control of your respiratory and overall health.
Yes, allergies can be a trigger for asthma in some individuals. This condition is often referred to as “allergic asthma.” Allergies and asthma are related but distinct conditions, and while not everyone with allergies will develop asthma, allergies can contribute to the development of asthma in susceptible individuals.
Here’s how it works:
Allergies: Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to substances that are typically harmless to most people. These substances are called allergens and can include pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, and certain foods, among others. When a person with allergies comes into contact with an allergen, their immune system releases chemicals like histamines, leading to symptoms such as sneezing, itching, nasal congestion, and watery eyes.
Asthma: Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects the airways in the lungs. In individuals with asthma, the airways become inflamed and narrowed, leading to difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. Asthma attacks can range from mild to severe and can be triggered by various factors, including allergies.
Allergic Asthma: When a person with allergies is exposed to allergens that can also trigger asthma symptoms, it can lead to the development of allergic asthma. For some individuals, the allergic response triggered by exposure to allergens can extend beyond the nose and eyes to the lower airways, causing inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes. This, in turn, can result in asthma symptoms, such as wheezing and shortness of breath.
It’s important to note that not all asthma cases are related to allergies. Other factors, such as respiratory infections, exercise, cold air, smoke, and certain medications, can also trigger asthma symptoms. Additionally, some people may have asthma without any allergic component.
What allergies can trigger asthma?
Several allergens can trigger asthma symptoms in individuals who are susceptible to allergic asthma. Some of the most common allergens that can contribute to asthma exacerbation include:
Pollen: Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds can be a significant trigger for asthma symptoms, especially during the spring and fall seasons when pollen counts are high.
Dust Mites: These tiny insects are found in house dust, bedding, and upholstered furniture. Their feces and body parts can become airborne and trigger asthma symptoms in sensitive individuals.
Pet Dander: Allergens found in pet saliva, urine, and skin flakes (dander) can lead to asthma symptoms in people with pet allergies.
Mold: Mold spores, which thrive in damp and humid environments, can become airborne and trigger asthma symptoms when inhaled.
Cockroach Allergens: Proteins found in cockroach saliva, feces, and body parts can trigger asthma symptoms, particularly in urban environments where cockroach infestations are more common.
Household Irritants: Certain irritants commonly found in homes, such as tobacco smoke, strong odors, and cleaning products, can worsen asthma symptoms.
Respiratory Infections: While not allergens, respiratory infections like colds and the flu can lead to asthma exacerbations in some individuals.
Air Pollution: High levels of air pollution, including particulate matter and ozone, can worsen asthma symptoms and trigger attacks in susceptible individuals.
Occupational Allergens: People who work in certain environments, such as bakeries, animal farms, or laboratories, may be exposed to allergens at work that can trigger asthma symptoms.
Food Allergens: In some cases, certain food allergens can trigger allergic reactions, including asthma symptoms, in susceptible individuals.
It’s important to note that the specific allergens that trigger asthma can vary from person to person. Some individuals may have allergies and asthma triggered by one or more of the allergens listed above, while others may experience asthma symptoms in response to different triggers. Identifying individual triggers is essential for effective asthma management, and allergy testing can help determine specific allergens that may be contributing to asthma symptoms. Working with a healthcare professional, such as an allergist or pulmonologist, can help develop a personalized asthma action plan to control symptoms and reduce exposure to triggers.
Does asthma from allergies go away?
The resolution of asthma triggered by allergies, also known as allergic asthma, depends on several factors, including individual responses to allergens, effective management, and changes in exposure. In some cases, allergic asthma may improve or even go away over time, while in others, it can persist throughout life. Here are some important points to consider:
Age and Immune System: Allergic asthma is more common in childhood and early adulthood. As individuals age, their immune systems and responses to allergens can change. Some children may outgrow their allergic asthma as they reach adulthood, while others may continue to experience symptoms into adulthood.
Effective Management: Proper management of allergic asthma can significantly improve symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. This typically involves a combination of medications (e.g., bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers) and allergen avoidance strategies.
Allergen Avoidance: Avoiding exposure to allergens that trigger asthma symptoms is an essential part of managing allergic asthma. Reducing exposure to specific allergens can help improve symptoms and prevent asthma exacerbations.
Changes in Allergen Exposure: Changes in living environments or lifestyles can affect allergen exposure. For example, moving to a region with different pollen levels or making changes to reduce exposure to pet dander might lead to an improvement in asthma symptoms.
Individual Variability: Allergic asthma can vary greatly from person to person. Some individuals may experience mild symptoms that are well-controlled with minimal intervention, while others may have more severe and persistent asthma despite efforts to manage allergies and triggers.
Other Factors: While allergies are a common trigger for asthma, there are other non-allergic factors that can contribute to asthma symptoms. These may include respiratory infections, air pollution, occupational exposures, and exercise-induced asthma.
If you or someone you know has allergic asthma, it’s crucial to work closely with a healthcare professional, such as an allergist or pulmonologist, to develop a personalized asthma management plan. Regular follow-ups and adjustments to treatment based on individual responses are essential to achieving optimal asthma control. With proper management and allergen avoidance, many individuals with allergic asthma can lead healthy and symptom-free lives. However, the long-term outlook can vary, and some individuals may continue to experience asthma symptoms despite ongoing management efforts.
How do you test for allergy asthma?
The diagnosis of allergy-induced asthma, also known as allergic asthma, involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, lung function tests, and allergy testing. Here’s how healthcare professionals typically test for allergy-induced asthma:
Medical History and Physical Examination: The healthcare provider will start by taking a detailed medical history, which includes asking about symptoms, triggers, and family history of asthma or allergies. They will also perform a physical examination to assess the patient’s respiratory health.
Lung Function Tests: Spirometry is a common lung function test used to assess how well the lungs are functioning. It measures the amount of air a person can inhale and exhale and how quickly they can do it. A decrease in lung function, particularly with reversible airflow obstruction (improved with bronchodilator medication), is a characteristic feature of asthma.
Allergy Testing: Allergy testing is performed to identify specific allergens that may be triggering asthma symptoms. There are two primary methods of allergy testing:
a. Skin Prick Test: In this test, small amounts of common allergens are applied to the skin, usually on the forearm or back. The skin is then pricked to allow the allergens to enter the skin’s surface. If the person is allergic to a particular allergen, they will develop a raised, itchy bump at the test site within 15-20 minutes.
b. Blood Test (Specific IgE test): This blood test measures the levels of specific IgE antibodies in response to various allergens. Elevated levels of IgE antibodies to specific allergens indicate sensitization and potential allergy to those substances.
Allergy Symptom Diary: Keeping an allergy symptom diary can be helpful in identifying patterns of symptoms related to specific allergens or triggers.
Allergen Challenge Test (Optional): In some cases, an allergen challenge test may be performed under medical supervision. During this test, the patient is exposed to a small amount of the suspected allergen to observe the body’s reaction.
By combining the results of the medical history, physical examination, lung function tests, and allergy testing, healthcare professionals can make an accurate diagnosis of allergy-induced asthma. Once diagnosed, an individualized asthma management plan can be created, which may include allergen avoidance strategies, medications (e.g., bronchodilators, corticosteroids), and lifestyle adjustments to control asthma symptoms effectively. Regular follow-ups with the healthcare provider are essential to monitor asthma control and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.
If you suspect that you or someone you know may have asthma triggered by allergies, it’s crucial to seek medical advice from a healthcare professional. Proper diagnosis and management are essential to control both allergies and asthma effectively. Treatment may include allergy management, asthma medications (e.g., bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory drugs), and lifestyle adjustments to minimize exposure to triggers.