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5 Facts About Allergic Asthma

Honestly, this doesn’t seem fair.

5 Facts About Allergic Asthma

By Korin Miller, SELF

Allergic asthma is like your body’s way of saying, “Oh, you think regular allergies are bad? Hold my beer.” While dealing with allergies is flat-out terrible, having allergies that can cause an asthma attack ups the ante in a pretty scary way.

If you have this condition and it’s any consolation, you’re not alone in your misery: Though there are various types of asthma, most of the 25 million people in the United States with this disease have the allergic form. With that in mind, it’s worth knowing some basics about the condition. Here are five facts about allergic asthma everyone should know.



1

Allergic asthma makes it hard to breathe the same way non-allergic asthma does: by affecting your airways.

If you have asthma, the airways extending from your nose and mouth to your lungs sometimes act completely erratically, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). In response to a trigger, your airways can get all inflamed, causing swelling that makes the surrounding muscles tighten and restrict your air intake. At the same time, your airways will boost their mucus production, making breathing even more of a struggle.



2

Since they have the same basic mechanism, allergic and non-allergic asthma cause similar symptoms.

You might experience coughing, wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), shortness of breath, and chest tightness, the NHLBI says. The symptoms are the same regardless of whether allergies or something else set off your asthma, but coughing tends to be the most common one, Purvi Parikh, M.D., an allergist and immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network, tells SELF.

Plain ol’ allergies, on the other hand, might cause symptoms like sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, and teary, red, or swollen eyes, according to the Mayo Clinic. The big giveaway that you’re dealing with allergies is if you’re mainly having weird nose and eye issues without much strange respiratory action, Sara Axelrod, M.D., M.P.H., an allergist with ENT and Allergy Associates, tells SELF.

Having allergic asthma, however, means your body might pull from a grab bag of symptoms, mixing and matching in a way that causes overlap between typical asthma and allergy signs.



3

As you might guess, allergic asthma and other types of asthma have different triggers.

If you have allergic asthma, you can experience that troubling respiratory domino effect in response to whichever allergen your system just can’t tolerate, Dr. Parikh says. Once your immune system interprets the allergen as harmful, it releases antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE), which can cause an allergic reaction that impacts your lungs and throat, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Common allergic asthma triggers include dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and mold, the AAAAI says. Roaches are another big (and disgusting) one, Dr. Parikh notes, since their poop, saliva, and body parts can cause kick off allergies in some people.

If you have non-allergic asthma, you might have a variety of different triggers, like exercise, cold air, and even feeling strong emotions like stress.



4

Doctors can perform tests to help you figure out exactly what’s setting off your allergic asthma.

You may already know your trigger, or you might need help from an allergist to try to figure out what’s causing your system to act up. Your doctor can do skin or blood testing to see what you’re allergic to and go from there, Raymond Casciari, M.D., a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, tells SELF. It’s also a good idea to try to keep a diary of anything that makes your asthma symptoms worse. This can be a huge help in figuring out your triggers, Dr. Casciari says.



5

Avoiding your triggers is one of the biggest ways to treat allergic asthma. Beyond that, medication can help thwart this condition.

So, the catch with avoiding your triggers is that, depending on what incites your asthma, it’s obviously easier said than done. If your trigger is dust mites, you can’t spend your entire life ridding your home of every speck of dust. If your airways’ worst enemy is pollen (which it seems is covering pretty much everything on Earth right now), the solution isn’t to stay inside for months on end. In those kinds of cases, it’s about doing things like learning how to clean in a way that specifically targets dust, and pollen-proofing your home so as little makes it inside as possible.

The other part of treatment involves seeing your doctor to figure out a plan that can tackle your allergy symptoms and lower the chances of you having an asthma attack if you do encounter your triggers. For example, you may be able to treat allergy symptoms with drugs like antihistamines, or with regular allergy shots to build up a tolerance to the allergens in question, Dr. Axelrod says. Your doctor might also recommend medications to prevent your airways from overreacting to various substances, Dr. Casciari says.

Landing on the right treatment for you depends on a multitude of factors, but the point is that there’s a huge range of treatment options to help stave off your symptoms. If you think you have allergic asthma, go see a doctor. Together, you can figure out a mix of treatments to help you exhale a very literal sigh of relief.
5 Facts About Allergic Asthma

See more at: SELF

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