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 What is allergic asthma?

Allergic asthma, or allergy-induced asthma, is a type of asthma that is triggered or made worse by allergies. Asthma and allergies often go hand-in-hand. In fact, up to 90 percent of children and 60 percent of adults with asthma suffer from allergies.1,2

On its own, asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes your airways to swell, narrow, and produce extra mucus—making it hard to breathe. Asthma is serious and widespread, affecting approximately 300 million people worldwide.3

For some, asthma is just a minor annoyance. But for others, it can have a major impact on daily activities, from exercising to going to school. And asthma can be especially challenging to manage when symptoms are exacerbated by certain allergens such as pollen, dust mites, or mold.

 

Common symptoms of ALLERGIC ASTHMA

Allergic asthma usually has at least one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Coughing (especially at night and exercise)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness, pain, or pressure

Allergic asthma requires a medical diagnosis. To manage your allergic asthma symptoms, it’s important to have an asthma management plan in place. The first step? Identify and minimize your exposure to all of your asthma triggers, especially allergy triggers.

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Asthma could lead to an asthma attack, which is also called a severe asthma episode or asthma exacerbation. People with asthma are also at an increased risk of having a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, to food.4

Common allergic asthma causes and triggers

Many of the same substances that can cause an allergic reaction can also affect people with asthma. Common allergens that may trigger allergic asthma include:
 

 

While there’s a strong connection between allergies and asthma, there are many other triggers to be aware of, too. Some of the most common non-allergic triggers include:5

1. Cold or dry air
2. Exercise
3. Exposure to cigarette smoke or strong scents
4. Other respiratory infections

Many people with asthma have multiple triggers.

You’ll need to pay close attention to your allergies and asthmatriggers because they can change over time.

HOW TO TREAT ALLERGIC ASTHMA SYMPTOMS


Identifying your triggers as soon as possible is key to improving allergic asthma symptom management.
One way to identify your triggers is through blood testing for allergies. The results of this blood test, together with a detailed medical history and a physical examination, will help your healthcare provider develop a customized allergic asthma management plan that's right for you.

While there is no cure for asthma, your healthcare provider may prescribe you medication to help control your allergic asthma symptoms. Most asthma medicines are breathed in using an inhaler or nebulizer, which enables the medicine to go directly to your lungs, while other asthma medicines are in pill form.6

ASTHMA ATTACKS AND OTHER RISKS

An asthma attack may be triggered by exposure to an allergen. During an asthma attack, the muscles that surround the bronchial tubes constrict, narrowing the air passages and making it extremely difficult to breathe.7

An asthma attack can feel as if someone is sitting on your chest or there’s a cloud in your lungs—you may struggle to draw in a full breath, your chest may feel tight, and your breathing may quicken.7 Scary, right? Fortunately, almost everyone who receives treatment recovers from even the most severe asthma attacks.8 It’s important to get behind the root cause of your asthma so you can properly manage it and decrease the risk of asthma attacks.

 

Seek emergency care if you have one of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme difficulty breathing
  • Severe chest pain
  • Difficulty walking or talking
  • Blue tint to the skin

CAN YOU OUTGROW ALLERGIC ASTHMA?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to outgrow asthma or for it to go away once you have it. Asthma is a chronic disease that permanently changes your lungs’ airways.8 It is possible for symptoms and attacks to lessen or get better over time. However, you are always at risk for those symptoms to return.

 

Why don’t I have Symptoms all the time?

Everyone has their own unique combination of allergic triggers and not all of them are obvious. In fact, the majority of people with allergies—up to 80 percent—are allergic to multiple things.9 You may experience mild reactions to several allergens, but they are so small that you don’t notice them on their own. But when you encounter multiple things you are allergic to at the same time, all of those small reactions can add up to the point where you start experiencing asthma symptoms.

Determining if you have allergies and identifying your allergic triggers can help you stay below the point where you start having allergic asthma symptoms – your symptom threshold. It has been shown that reducing exposure to confirmed allergy triggers can have a significant impact on the ability to control asthma10 with fewer symptoms, fewer hospital visits, and improved quality of life.11,12

Allergy Season-Symptom Threshold
 
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Why it’s important to know now

You may think that you have your allergic asthma under control, but it's important to investigate the causes of your symptoms. Many people are so used to living with their symptoms that they never consider asking for help, but how do you know if the symptoms you have are caused by allergy or not?

If you think you or a loved one has an allergy, don't try to manage the problem on your own. Be sure to consult with your healthcare professional about a simple blood test that may be able to help. 

References
  1. Allen-Ramney F, Schoenwetter W, Weiss T, et al. Sensitization to Common Allergens in Adults with Asthma. JABFP. 2005;(18)5 434-439.
  2. Host  A, Halken S. Practical aspects of allergy-testing. Paediatr Respir Rev. 2003; (4) 312-318.
  3. World Health Organization. Global surveillance, prevention and control of chronic respiratory diseases: a comprehensive approach, 2007. http://www.who.int/gard/publications/GARD%20Book%202007.pdf?ua=1, accessed September 2017.
  4. Wang J et al, Food allergies and asthma; Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 2011 Jun; 11(3):249-254.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common Asthma Triggers. www.cdc.gov/asthma/triggers.html. Accessed September 2017.
  6. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Asthma Treatment, https://www.aafa.org/asthma-treatment/, accessed April 2020.
  7. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “Asthma Attack,” https://acaai.org/asthma/symptoms/asthma-attack, accessed April 2020. 
  8. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “Outgrowing asthma?” https://acaai.org/resources/connect/ask-allergist/outgrowing-asthma, accessed April 2020.
  9. Ciprandi G, Alesina R, Ariano R, et al. Characteristics of patients with allergic polysensitization; the polismail study. Eur Ann Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008;40(3) 77-83.
  10. Eggleston PA. Control of environmental allergens as a therapeutic approach. lmmunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2003;23(3):533-547.
  11. Morgan WJ, Gruchalla R, Kattan M, et al. Results of Home-Based Environmental Intervention among Urban Children with Asthma. N Engl J Med. 2004;351:1068-80.
  12. Halken S, Hansen L, OSterballe O. Effect of mattress and pillow encasings on children with asthma and house dust mite allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003;111:169-76.