How does an allergy cause asthma symptoms?
An allergic response occurs when the body’s immune system proteins also called antibodies mistakenly identify a harmless substance, such as tree pollen or animal dander, and considers it as an invader (allergen). This misrecognition causes an allergic reaction to result. Antibodies formed by the body bind to the allergen in an effort to shield your body from the chemical.
Your immune system’s production of chemicals causes allergy symptoms and signs like runny nose, itchy eyes, and skin rashes. Individuals may experience a similar reaction in their lungs and breathing channels or airways, which causes inflammation and tightening of the airways resulting in symptoms of asthma. These symptoms include cough, chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath.
What are the common Allergens causing Asthma?
The common allergens found in the environment that causes symptoms of allergies and asthma include Pollen, Animal dander, Dust mite, Smoke and pollution amongst others. Certain foods ( e.g Peanuts , shell fish etc) can trigger an allergic response in a person ranging from mild rash to a severe allergic reaction called “Anaphylaxis”
Are allergies and asthma treated differently?
Most treatments are designed to treat either asthma or allergic rhinitis. But a few treatments help with both conditions. The main treatment modalities include
Antihistamine: They are a class of drugs that are commonly used to treat the symptoms of allergies including sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, rhinorrhea (runny nose) and skin rash like urticaria. They control these symptoms by inhibiting “Histamine”, a chemical that is released by the body in response to an Allergen.
Inhaled Steroids: Steroids improve the symptoms of asthma by controlling inflammation, swelling and mucus production in the airways. Inhaled steroids are the mainstay of treatment of asthma. Regular use of steroid inhalers results in better control of asthma, reduces the risks of an asthma attack and hospital admissions. The side effects of inhale steroids are uncommon. Oral thrush ( fungal infection) and hoarseness may be seen with regular usage and can be managed by antifungal drops or lozenges and thorough gargling after the use of inhalers
Modifier for Leukotrienes (Montelukast) The symptoms of allergic rhinitis and asthma can both be reduced by this kind of treatment. This daily medication, known as a leukotriene modulator, aids in regulating the immune system and the chemicals released through its biological pathways after an allergic reaction. The leukotriene modulators can control the symptoms of allergic rhinitis as well as asthma.
Bronchodilators: These are medications that relax the smooth muscle bands that tighten around the airways in asthma and COPD. This opens up the breathing channels making it easier to breathe and clear the mucus. They are 2 main categories of bronchodilators. Beta 2 agonists and anticholinergics. They are either long acting bronchodilators which are used as “controllers” that maintain the effect for an extended period making it easier to breathe throughout the day or short acting bronchodilators that have a rapid and more potent action . These short acting bronchodilators are used for symptom relief in an acute episode of shortness of breath.
Allergy shots (immunotherapy). By progressively lowering your immune system’s response to some allergy triggers, allergy injections can help cure asthma. Immunotherapy entails getting a small amount of the allergens injected in your body on a regular basis. This is almost like receiving a vaccination that can be protective against a disease.
Over time, your immune system develops a tolerance to the allergens, and your allergic symptoms lessen. As a result, asthmatic symptoms also get better. Typically, this course of treatment calls for repeated injections or controlled exposures over time.
Anti-immunoglobulin E (IgE) therapy. When you have an allergy, your immune system misinterprets a certain substance as harmful and secretes IgE antibodies against the offending allergen.
The IgE antibodies detect that allergen the next time you come into contact with it, alerting your immune system to release histamine and other chemicals into your bloodstream. Medicines can blocks IgE in the body to help prevent allergic reactions that cause asthma symptoms. Although it may also benefit allergic rhinitis, this medication is recommended for more severe allergic asthma.
To manage allergies or asthma, you might need additional medicines, particularly if your symptoms occasionally get severe. However, one of the most crucial actions you can take is to identify and stay away from the things that make your symptoms worse. This is one of the primary ways to protect yourself and reduce your need for medication.
Who is at risk of allergic asthma?
A significant risk factor for allergic asthma is a family history of allergies. Your risk of developing asthma is also increased if you yourself suffer from seasonal allergies or other allergies.
Is all asthma caused by allergies?
Despite the fact that allergic asthma is relatively common, there are other types of asthma with various triggers that can cause similar symptoms. Exercise, illnesses, cold air, gastro esophageal reflux disease or even stress itself can all be asthma triggers for certain people. People have multiple asthma triggers.
If you have symptoms of asthma, it is important you are appropriately evaluated by your chest specialist/ pulmonologist. This helps you to receive the most up to date treatment regimen to control your symptoms and minimize their side effects as well as potential un-expected problems for the future.