Allergies can mean discomfort for asthma sufferers, both during seasonal allergy season and whenever allergens are encountered. For people who already have complications due to asthma, allergies can be especially problematic — even triggering asthmatic episodes.
Allergies and asthma happen to share a lot of traits. Unfortunately, they also happen to occur together frequently, says the Mayo Clinic. The same substances that cause allergies, such as pollen, dust mites and pet dander, also may cause asthma to rear it’s dangerous head.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology says people who have allergies also often have asthma. People who seemingly think that wheezing is a product of pollen may actually have asthma and are advised to see an allergist to get to the root of the problem.
Allergic asthma, where allergies trigger asthma symptoms, is the most common type of asthma, advises ACAAI. Children who have allergies and also have asthma make up 80 percent of those affected. The rates are 75 percent of young adults (age 20-40) and 65 percent of those aged 55 and older who have at least one allergy and asthma.
Allergy season can be particularly scary for those with asthma because the chances of having an attack can be ramped up and may be more severe. Therefore, anyone who is experiencing allergic reactions and/or asthma symptoms should heed this advice.
• Speak with an allergist. He or she can check out symptoms and prescribe the right treatments. Drugs such as montelukast, which is a leukotriene modifier, can help control immune system chemicals released during an allergic reaction. It also may help alleviate asthma symptoms.
• Consider immunotherapy. Immunotherapy involves allergy shots that can reduce sensitivity to the allergens over time. It might even help prevent the development of asthma in some people with seasonal allergies, states ACAAI.
• Avoid allergy triggers. Knowing pollen counts, cleaning a home and preventing dust mites and pet dander from accumulating, and avoiding going outside or having the windows open when counts are high can help. Showering and laundering clothing after being outside can limit allergens brought into the house.
• Try anti-immunoglobulin E (IgE) therapy. The Mayo Clinic says with an allergy, the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies a specific substance as something harmful and releases IgE antibodies to fight the allergen. The next time the IgE antibodies sense an allergen they will release a chemical called histamine into the bloodstream. IgE-targeted medications block these reactions and interfere with IgE.
Allergies and asthma often go hand-in-hand. Treating symptoms and avoiding triggers can help immensely.