The Asthma and Allergy Relationship

Health, Home & Family
on January 7, 2013

Allergies and asthma have something in common: Both have the potential to make you miserable, and they oftentimes occur together. The Mayo Clinic provides a basic explanation of the relationship between allergies and asthma.

What is allergy-induced asthma? The same allergic reaction that triggers hay fever symptoms can trigger asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. Pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and skin or food allergies also can trigger asthma symptoms. Other triggers include exercise or infections, and many asthma sufferers have more than one trigger.

How do allergies trigger asthma attacks? Allergies occur when the immune system recognizes an otherwise harmless substance as dangerous—pollen, for example—and sends out anti-bodies to eliminate it. As part of the attack, the immune system releases chemicals that produce allergy symptoms such as nasal congestion, a runny nose or itchy eyes. When chemicals produce reactions in the lungs and airways, asthma symptoms occur.

Who is most at risk for allergy-induced asthma? People with a history of asthma or hay fever in their families are more likely to suffer from allergy-induced asthma. Remember that allergic triggers can change over time and you may need to adjust behaviors and treatment.

How are allergies and asthma treated? If you suspect that a particular allergy triggers asthma attacks, limit your exposure and consult a health professional to formulate a treatment plan. Most medications are designed to treat either allergies or asthma, not both. The best medication is avoidance of asthma and allergy triggers.

Learn more basic facts about seasonal allergies here.