Do Allergies Cause Asthma?
Allergies don’t cause asthma. But kids who have allergies, or a family history of allergies, are more likely to get asthma than those who don’t.
And when kids already have asthma, having allergies can sometimes make their asthma symptoms worse.
How Do Allergies Make Asthma Worse?
Lots of kids with asthma have worse asthma symptoms when they’re around allergens (the things that give them an allergic reaction). Common allergens are dust mites, mold, pollen, and animal dander.
When someone has an allergy, the immune system reacts to the allergen like it’s an invader. To fight it off, the immune system makes something called immunoglobulin E (IgE). When IgE mixes with the allergen, chemicals release that are made to protect the body. One of these is histamine. Histamine causes allergic reactions that can affect the eyes, nose, throat, skin, and lungs.
When the airways in the lungs are affected, it can bring on symptoms of asthma (like coughing, wheezing, or trouble breathing).
The body remembers this response, and whenever it comes into contact with the allergen, the same thing can happen. Because of that, allergies can make it hard for some people to keep their asthma under control.
Do Allergies Affect Your Child’s Asthma?
If your child’s asthma isn’t under control, find out if allergies are making it worse. Talk to your doctor, who may refer your child to an allergist for testing.
If it turns out that your child’s asthma is triggered by certain allergens, you’ll want to limit your child’s exposure to them. This can go a long way toward relieving asthma symptoms.
The doctor or allergist may recommend allergy medicine or allergy shots if your child can’t avoid an allergen. (Kids Health)
Asthma and Allergies Are More Related Than You Think
People who have allergies often also have asthma. And people with asthma often have allergies. While the two may not seem related, studies show about two-thirds or more of those with asthma also have an allergy. May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, a great time to look at your symptoms and figure out if you’re suffering from asthma, allergies, or both.
“What many people don’t realize is that the same things that trigger your seasonal hay fever symptoms – things like pollen, dust mites, mold and pet dander – can also cause asthma symptoms,” says allergist Bradley Chipps, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “If you have allergies, and you are wheezing or coughing, see an allergist to find out if you also have asthma. Allergists are also specialists at treating asthma and can put together a treatment plan to help you deal with both allergies and asthma.”
Allergic asthma – where allergies are triggers for asthma symptoms – is the most common type of asthma. Researchers have long known that the frequency of children with allergies who also have asthma can be as high as 80 percent. Recent research has shown that about 75 percent of adults aged 20-40 with asthma, and 65 percent of those with asthma aged 55 years and older, have at least one allergy.
“Effective treatment of allergic asthma includes identifying and avoiding allergens that trigger symptoms. After diagnosing asthma, we usually move on to using drug therapies and developing an emergency action plan to deal with severe attacks,” says Dr. Chipps. “If you can cut down on the number of allergens in your life, you may also be able to reduce asthma symptoms.”
Here are some tips to help you avoid the allergens that trigger your asthma:
Immunotherapy (allergy shots) can reduce sensitivity to the allergens that trigger asthma attacks and significantly reduce the severity of the disease. It might even prevent the development of asthma in some children with seasonal allergies.
One of the best ways to avoid allergy symptoms is to avoid offending allergens. If pollen is a seasonal trigger:
Keep windows closed during pollen season, especially during the day.
Know which pollens you are sensitive to and then check pollen counts. Try to avoid going outside when pollen counts are highest. In spring and summer, during tree and grass pollen season, levels are highest in the evening. In late summer and early fall, during ragweed pollen season, levels are highest in the morning.
Take a shower, wash your hair, and change clothing after working or playing outdoors.
Don’t wear shoes in the house – the soles can attract pollen which can be left on carpeting and other surfaces.
Bathrooms, basements and areas that are tiled can be especially prone to mold. The key to reducing mold is moisture control. Use bathroom fans and clean up any standing water immediately. Scrub any visible mold from surfaces with detergent and water, and completely dry.
You can help ward off dust mites and mold by keeping home humidity below 50 percent and cleaning gutters regularly. Do not use vaporizers or humidifiers.
Remove pet allergens by vacuuming frequently and washing upholstery, including your pet’s bed. Be sure to always keep your pet out of the bedroom to ensure you can sleep symptom-free. (ACAAI)