Allergies and asthma have something in common: They have the potential to make you miserable, and they sometimes occur together. The Mayo Clinic provides a basic explanation on the relationship between allergies and asthma. Here are the highlights, or if you're an allergy/asthma sufferer, the lowlights.
What is allergy-induced asthma? The same allergic reaction that triggers hay fever symptoms can also trigger asthma symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. Pollen, dust mites and pet dander are common causes. Skin or food allergies can also trigger asthma symptoms. Not all types of asthma are triggered by allergies. Other triggers include exercise or infections. Many asthma sufferers have more than one trigger, and allergies should not be discounted.
How do allergies trigger asthma attacks? Allergies occur when the immune system recognizes an otherwise harmless substance as dangerous — pollen, for example — and sends out antibodies to eliminate it. As part of the attack, the immune system releases chemicals that produce allergy symptoms, such as nasal congestion, a runny nose or itchy eyes. When the chemicals produce reactions in the lungs and airways, asthma symptoms occur.
Who is likely to suffer from allergy-induced asthma? Those with a family history of allergies and those susceptible to hay fever are most likely to suffer from allergy-induced asthma. If you suspect that a particular allergy triggers asthma attacks, you'll naturally want to limit your exposure to it. You don't have to go it alone. Consult a health professional to find treatment and formulate a plan. Because allergic triggers can change over time, you may need to adjust behaviors and treatment.
How are allergies and asthma treated? Most medications are designed to treat either allergies or asthma, not both together. Exceptions include, according to the Mayo Clinic, Leukotriene modifiers and allergy shots. The best medication is avoidance of asthma and allergy triggers.