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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Getting to Know Allergies and Asthma

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You might be wondering what allergies and asthma have in common besides making you feel uncomfortable and miserable. It turns out, they have a lot of similar factors. That is why both of them often occur together.

The same elements that trigger your seasonal allergies or hay fever symptoms like dust mites, pet dander, and pollen might also cause asthma. For some people, food or skin allergies can lead to asthma symptoms. This is called allergy-induced asthma or commonly known as allergic asthma.

Allergic Reactions and Asthma Symptoms: How Does the Former Cause the Latter

An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system’s antibodies mistakenly identify a harmless element, like dust mites, as an invader. In an attempt to protect your body from the said element, antibodies tie up the allergen.

The chemicals your immune system had unloosed during this process leads to allergy signs and symptoms. This includes a runny nose, nasal congestion, skin reactions, or itchy eyes. In some cases, these reactions also impact the airways and lungs, leading to asthma symptoms.

Are All Asthma Caused by Allergies?

Allergic asthma is quite common. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) stated that more than half of all people with asthma have allergic asthma. On the bright side, allergic asthma is treatable in most cases.

However, there are also other types of asthma with various kinds of triggers. For some, asthma can be triggered by gastroesophageal reflux disease, infections, exercise, cold air, or even stress. Also, several people have more than one type of asthma trigger.

Allergic Asthma Causes

In most cases, allergic asthma is due to inhaled allergens. Here are some of these allergens:

  • Pollen;
  • Dust mites;
  • Pet dander;
  • Air pollution
  • Tobacco smoke;
  • Chemical fumes;
  • Strong odors like perfumes and scented lotions.

The following are some of the less common allergens that can cause allergic asthma:

  • Milk;
  • Cockroaches;
  • Fish;
  • Peanuts;
  • Tree nuts;
  • Wheat;
  • shellfish.

Symptoms of Allergic Asthma

Both allergic asthma and regular asthma carry the same symptoms, which are the following:

  • Wheezing;
  • Rapid breathing;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Coughing;
  • Chest tightness.

If you have any seasonal skin allergies or hay fever, you might also experience these symptoms:

  • Runny nose;
  • Itchy skin;
  • Flaky skin;
  • Rash;
  • Congestion;
  • Watery eyes;
  • Itchy eyes.

If you swallowed an allergen, you might develop these symptoms:

  • Swollen face;
  • Hives;
  • Anaphylaxis;
  • Swollen throat, lips, or mouth;
  • Tingly mouth.

What Are the Potential Complications of Allergic Asthma?

Allergic asthma can lead to serious complications. An example of this is anaphylaxis. This allergic reaction may have the following symptoms:

  • Hives;
  • Anxiety;
  • Difficulty swallowing;
  • Fainting
  • Slurred speech;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Mout or facial swelling
  • Cough;
  • Confusion;
  • Nasal congestion.

If anaphylaxis becomes untreated, it can be life-threatening. It may also lead to other health problems. This includes weakness, cardiac arrest, abnormal heart rate, rapid pulse, pulmonary arrest, and low blood pressure.

Do Allergies and Asthma Have Different Treatments?

Most of the time, treatments are created to treat either allergies or asthma. However, there are a few that can help treat both conditions. The following are some of the examples:

Leukotriene Modifier

Montelukast (Singulair) can help relieve both allergy and asthma. This pill is called a leukotriene modifier. It helps in controlling the chemicals your immune system releases during an allergic reaction.

In rare cases, this pill has been linked to psychological reactions. Hence, it would be best to consult your doctor before you decide to take one. Or, if you have been taking one recently and started to experience any unusual psychological reactions, report to your doctor as soon as possible.

Moreover, the dose, frequency, and time of day this medication should be taken varies according to age or necessity. Also, it could cause a detrimental effect if the drug is suddenly increased, decreased,or stopped. So it’s best to consult the doctor for directions.

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Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy)

Allergy shots can help with treating asthma. This is because it gradually reduces your immune system’s response to allergy triggers. Furthermore, immunotherapy involves getting regular allergy shots of a small number of allergens that might trigger your symptoms.

This is a long-term treatment that usually lasts for about 3 to 5 years. As time goes on, your immune system will build up a tolerance to the allergens. In the same way, asthma symptoms will also decrease.

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), the development of immunity towards the allergens through allergy shots happen in two phases:

  • Build-up phase. In this period, increasing amounts of the allergens are injected about one to three times per week. Depending on how often the injections are administered, this phase lasts from three to six months.
  • Maintenance phase.  This is the next period once the effective dose is achieved. The maintenance dose is dependent on how sensitive you are to allergens and your body’s response to the build-up phase. Unlike the build-up phase, there is a two to four weeks interval between treatments in the maintenance phase. This range will be decided by your allergist / immunologist.

Anti-immunoglobulin E (IgE) Therapy

When you experience an allergic reaction, the antibodies your immune system releases are called IgE. Once the IgE senses the allergens’ presence, it will send a signal to the immune system that leads to the releasing of a chemical called histamine. Not only that, but it also releases other chemicals in your bloodstream that will fight allergens. The medication omalizumab (Xoliar) interferes with the IgE and prevents the allergic reaction from happening, which also triggers asthma.

Your doctor might prescribe you other medication to treat asthma or allergies, especially if you have been experiencing severe symptoms. Moreover, it would be best if you kept in mind to avoid the allergens that will trigger your allergies or asthma symptoms as much as possible.

To Sum Up

It will help if you are aware of the things that can trigger your allergies and asthma. Moreover, do whatever you can to reduce or eliminate your exposure to these triggers. Lastly, it would be best to consult with your doctor to know the best treatment to help you manage your signs and symptoms.

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