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Allergic asthma, or allergy-induced asthma, is when allergies either trigger or worsen asthma. Many people don't realize that asthma and allergies often go hand-in-hand. The majority of people who have asthma suffer from allergies, too.2-4 In fact, up to 90 percent of children and 60 percent of adults with asthma suffer from allergies.5,6
On its own, asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes your airways to swell, narrow, and produce extra mucus. This combination can make it hard to breathe. Asthma is serious and widespread, affecting approximately 300 million people worldwide.1 For some of these people, asthma is just a minor annoyance, but for others, it can have a major impact on daily activities, especially if allergies to things such as pollen, dust mites, or mold make it worse.
Asthma usually has at least one or more of the following symptoms:
Allergic asthma requires a medial diagnosis. To manage your asthma, it’s important to identify and minimize your exposure to all of your asthma triggers, especially allergy triggers.
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.9
Asthma does have the potential to be severe and even life-threatening. In the United States, there are more than 4,000 deaths due to asthma each year, many of which are avoidable with proper treatment.16 It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about the frequency and severity of symptoms.
Seek emergency care if you have:
Because asthma affects the airways and breathing, it can negatively disrupt one’s lifestyle, including difficulty sleeping and a decrease in physical activity. It can also increase the risk for respiratory failure and permanent structural changes in the airways.17 Asthma complications can occur for various reasons, including exposure to allergens.
Asthma is one of the top reasons for missing school days.7
The fear of a life-threatening asthma attack can stop you from participating in sports or physical activities, going for a hike or sitting around a campfire
Many people who have asthma are very reluctant to do any sort of exercise because they are worried that it might trigger an attack.8
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.15 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.
When it comes to managing your asthma, it is important to identify and minimize exposure to any allergy triggers you may have. 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:
Many people with asthma have multiple triggers. Identifying your triggers as soon as possible is the key to improving your symptom management. And you’ll need to pay close attention to your allergies and asthma triggers because they can change over 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%—are allergic to multiple things.11 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 asthma12 with fewer symptoms, fewer hospital visits, and improved quality of life.13-14
You may think that you have your 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.