Asthma and Allergies
Asthma and allergies often occur together, because there is a strong connection between these two conditions. While some medication can treat both, there are specific treatment plans for each. In addition, there are also a few things you can do to prevent or better manage both asthma and allergies.
The same chemicals that trigger an allergy will also cause a common form of asthma called allergic (or allergy induced) asthma. The most common allergens include pollen, dust mites, and pet dander, although food and skin allergies can also lead to asthma symptoms such as breathing difficulty, chest tightness, cough and wheezing.
In both conditions, there is an abnormal response from the immune system. The antibodies perceive the allergens (i.e. pollen) as a dangerous substances and will try to protect the body. The antibodies will bind to the allergen, releasing inflammatory substances and causing either runny nose and itchy eyes (allergies), or inflammation of the airways (characteristic to asthma).
Asthma symptoms are not always triggered by allergies – in some cases, the symptoms are induced by exercise, infections, cold air, digestive problems (such as gastro esophageal reflux), or even stress. Many asthma suffers have more than one kind of asthma trigger.
Some medications can be useful to treat both allergies and asthma – for example: leukotriene modifier, allergy shots, corticosteroids or anti-immunoglobulin E therapy, while other drugs are specifically used for either asthma or allergies.
Tips to Manage Asthma and Allergies
- Pay attention to the warning signs. In some cases, allergies can be an early sign of an episode of asthma. Other early warning signs (for asthma) include frequent cough (experienced more at night), troubles breathing, feeling fatigued, infections (such as a cold or flu), or problems with your sleep. If you have allergies, the response is often quick and the symptoms occur shortly after you had been exposed to an allergen. Follow the treatment plan recommended by your doctor for flare ups. Make sure you seek treatment if you experience a rare, but the most severe, life threatening form of allergy called anaphylaxis (symptoms of anaphylaxis include very low blood pressure, dizziness, sweating, fainting, digestive symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting, swelling of the throat and face, difficulty breathing).
- See your doctor to get the right treatment. Since your conditions may change, the medication and dosage may be adjusted accordingly. You should also take some allergy tests to better understand what triggers your symptoms. Keeping a journal where you record when and where you experience symptoms can also help you identify the triggers
- Whether you have environmental or other allergies, try to avoid them as much as you can. For example, you should buy dust proof covers for your mattress and wash your bedding regularly, to avoid exposure to dust mites. Vacuum your home often, and use HEPA filter to have a clean air at home. Do not smoke and avoid second hand smoking or other pollutants. If you have a pet, you should keep it away from your bedroom.