In most cases, allergies cause itchy, watery eyes, congestion, runny nose, sneezing, scratchy throat, postnasal drip and/or hives. But for some people, allergies can trigger asthma symptoms as well.
Approximately 25 million Americans have some kind of asthma, and allergy-induced asthma accounts for 60% of these cases. Below we review the connection between allergies and asthma, who is most at risk and how to find relief.
How Do Allergic Reactions Trigger Asthma?
Allergic reactions are the result of the immune system identifying a substance that is normally harmless – like pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander, insect stings and certain foods – as a dangerous intruder. To protect you from this intruder, your immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), triggering the cells to release histamine, which increases mucus production and causes swelling and itching.
For people with allergy-induced asthma, this reaction can affect the lungs and airway, leading to:
- Chest tightness.
- Inability to catch breath.
Who Is Most at Risk of Having Allergy-Induced Asthma?
Those most at risk of having allergy-induced asthma are those with a family history of the condition. In addition, if you have hay fever or other allergies you’re at higher risk of developing asthma.
How Is Allergy-Induced Asthma Treated?
While most treatments available address either allergies or asthma, there are some that treat both, including:
- Leukotriene modifier. This medication is a daily pill that eases the symptoms of both allergies and asthma. It works by controlling the immune system chemicals that are released during an allergic reaction.
- More commonly known as allergy shots, immunotherapy works by desensitizing your immune system to triggering substances. Small doses of the allergen are introduced to the body to slowly build up a tolerance over time, usually three to five years.
- Anti-immunoglobulin E (IgE) therapy. This type of medication interferes with the IgE in the body to prevent an allergic reaction. It is reserved for severe cases of allergic asthma.
If going on a hike at Thunder Swamp Trail triggers allergic asthma, call the experts at Pinnacle ENT Associates to discuss treatment options today.