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 What is allergic asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes your airways to swell, narrow and produce extra mucus. This combination can, understandably, 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 every day.

Asthma and allergies often go hand-in-hand. The majority of people who have asthma suffer from allergies.2-4 In fact, up to 90% of children and 60% of adults with asthma suffer from allergies.5,6 Plus, allergies can trigger your asthma or make it worse. When allergies either trigger or worsen asthma, it’s known as allergic asthma or allergy-induced asthma.

The better you understand your asthma, the better control you’ll have over your symptoms. Since there is no cure for asthma, your best defense is to learn what causes your allergic reactions and limit your exposure to them.

Asthma can also interfere with your ability to go about your day-to-day activities, affect your performance at work or even your child’s school attendance.

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Asthma is one of the top reasons for missing school days.7


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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

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 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


Common allergic asthma symptoms

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

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

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


Common allergic asthma triggers

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, including:

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 are cold or dry air, exercise, exposure to cigarette smoke or strong scents, the flu and other respiratory infections.10 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.


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%—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

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

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. 

  1. 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.
  2. Roberts G, Schaffer L, Lack G. Food allergy as a risk factor for life-threatening asthma in childhood case-controlled study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003;112:168-74. 
  3. Liu AH, Jaramillo R, Sicherer S, et al. National prevalence and risk factors for food allergy and relationship to asthma: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010;126:798-806 e13. 
  4. Murray CS, Poletti G, Kebadze T, et al. Study of modifiable risk factors for asthma exacerbations: virus infection and allergen exposure increase the risk of hospital admissions in children. Thorax. 2006;61:376-82. 
  5. Allen-Ramney F, Schoenwetter W, Weiss T, et al. Sensitization to Common Allergens in Adults with Asthma. JABFP. 2005;(18)5 434-439.
  6. Host  A, Halken S. Practical aspects of allergy-testing. Paediatr Respir Rev. 2003; (4) 312-318.
  7. CDC. National Surveillance of Asthma: United States, 2001-2010. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_03/sr03_035.pdf. Accessed September 2017.
  8. Mancuso C, Sayles W, Robbins L. Barriers and Facilitators to Healthy Physical Activity in Asthma Patients. J Asthma. 2006;43(2):137-43.
  9. Wang J et al, Food allergies and asthma; Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 2011 Jun; 11(3):249-254.
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common Asthma Triggers. www.cdc.gov/asthma/triggers.html. Accessed September 2017.    
  11. 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.
  12. Eggleston PA. Control of environmental allergens as a therapeutic approach. lmmunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2003;23(3):533-547.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.