Asthma and Allergy


Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman /

Written by Richard Trott

Asthma is a disease of long term that makes the tubes that lead to the lungs narrow. People that have asthma usually make a whistling sound when they breathe, they have tightness in their chest, their breath is short and they cough either during the night or early in the morning. There is no age limit at which asthma will strike both children and adults can have asthma.  Research shows that about twenty million people have asthma of which six million of these people are children.

Asthma causes the airways (the tubes that carry air to the lungs) to become irritates and then inflamed. When the airways come in contact with an irritant they become swollen and that will cause less air to reach the lungs. The airways can become narrow when the cells around them become swollen and begin to make more mucous than they normally would. These symptoms can happen each time the airways are irritated.

Although asthma and allergies are not the same they do go together. Asthma is a disease of the bronchial tubes while allergic asthma is caused by allergens such as dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold, cigarette smoke, etc.  For the person with allergies and asthma the things that start the allergies going can also irritate the airways and trigger the asthma symptoms.

How can an allergic reaction cause and asthmatic reaction? When allergens cause symptoms by irritating the nose they cause nasal congestion itchy eyes and skin rashes and hives. This form of allergy symptom can cause an inflamed airway that is usually the same as asthma.

To give you an example: if you have been diagnosed with allergy to ferrets than you are known to have a ferret allergy. The fur of the ferret has proteins and dander that can irritate the nasal passages which will cause swelling. If you have an allergic asthma the reaction will carry over and cause the airways to be inflamed thereby causing asthma symptoms.

One type of allergy treatment that can lower the asthma symptoms is the allergy shot. It will slowly reduce your immune systems response to the things you are allergic to that may cause your asthma. To control the symptoms of asthma, and you have allergic asthma, then stay away from the things that may start your symptoms.

There are some medications that can treat both conditions but on the most part the medications treat each condition separately. You would not use a nasal spray for a skin condition but there are some pills that can be used for both conditions. There is a pill called a leukotriene modifier, which regulates the chemicals of the immune system which are freed during an allergic reaction.

People at risk for allergic asthma are those with a family history of allergies. Hay fever is also a risk for allergic asthma and it has been found that one of every four people with hay fever develop asthma.

If you have both allergy and asthma symptoms you should see an allergist or immunologist and discuss treatment. Once you know how the immune system and the airways work and react it\’s a step toward treatment. Once you know what causes the symptoms you will be able to avoid them. In order to keep your asthma and allergy symptoms under control you have to work hand-in-hand with your allergist or immunologist and follow orders precisely.

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