What Are the Symptoms of Allergic Asthma?
Symptoms of both asthma and allergic asthma are similar – both cause difficulties with breathing. Symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid breathing
- Chest tightness
All of the above are classic asthma symptoms. However, you may also experience classic allergy symptoms in conjunction with allergic asthma symptoms, because your body is experiencing an allergic reaction. As such, you could also experience the following symptoms:
- Nasal symptoms, such as a runny or stuffy nose
- Nausea and vomiting (a symptom most common with a food allergy)
How Is Allergic Asthma Diagnosed?
If you and your doctor suspect that you are suffering from allergic asthma, diagnosis is key. You may undergo several tests, which include:
- A skin prick test. This test is a great way to test for allergies. A doctor or nurse applies common allergens into your skin with tiny needles. After a short duration of time, your doctor “reads” the test by appraising your skin for red bumps – red bumps indicate allergies.
- Spirometry. This test measures that amount of air you are able to inhale and exhale.
- Peak flow. This test measures the air pressure as you exhale.
- Lung function. This test monitors lung function after you use an inhaler. An improvement in lung function is likely indicative of asthma.
Understanding Your Allergic Asthma Treatment Options
Once a diagnosis of allergic asthma is obtained, a treatment plan can be created. Treatment likely will include treatment of both asthma and allergies.
Asthma is often treated with inhalers. An inhaler alone likely won’t treat allergic asthma, but it can help with breathing difficulties.
- Inhaled corticosteroids. These types of inhalers reduce inflammation in the airways by reducing mucus production, swelling of the bronchial tubes, and reducing airway hypersensitivity. If prescribed an inhaled corticosteroid, it is important to continue this medication even if symptoms are under control, because they can prevent symptoms from occurring.
- Bronchodilators. These types of inhalers relax the muscles of the airways so that the airways can remain open. There are two times of bronchodilators – rapid-acting, which are used when symptoms worsen, and long-acting, which help to maintain the airways. A long-acting bronchodilator should be used in conjunction with an inhaled corticosteroid.
- Combination inhalers. There are also inhalers that combine both medications. This is especially helpful for people who require both types of medication in order to control their symptoms.
Treating allergies will typically help both allergies and asthma. Here are several effective ways to treat both conditions simultaneously:
- Leukotriene modifiers. Montelukast (Singulair) is a medication that is known to treat both asthma and allergies, this daily medication reduces immune response by reducing the chemicals that are released during an allergic reaction. In rare circumstances, Singulair can have psychological side effects, such as suicidal ideation so this side effect should be monitored.
- Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is more commonly known as “allergy shots.” Allergy shots reduce symptoms by injecting tiny amounts of allergens that are known to trigger symptoms. By doing this, the immune response is gradually reduced – and asthma and allergy symptoms reduced. Allergy shots are a time commitment – this is a long-term treatment that can take three to five years to complete.
- Anti-immunoglobulin E (IgE) therapy. Omalizumab (Xolair) works because it “interferes with IgE in the body and helps prevent the allergic reaction that triggers asthma symptoms.” IgE is released in the body when allergens are present. This is not inherently a bad thing, but for someone with a heightened immune response, this happens too frequently.
The Bottom Line…
Allergic asthma is a specific type of asthma that occurs in response to an allergen, which is a specific substance that a person is allergic to; each person with allergic asthma is unique and has specific allergens that can spur their symptoms.
Symptoms of allergic asthma are very similar to that of “regular” asthma and can include coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
To come up with a treatment plan for allergic asthma, work with your primary care physician.