Allergy-induced asthma, also called allergic asthma, occurs when you experience asthma symptoms on breathing in an allergen. The most common allergens that induce asthma include mold spores, dander, and pollen. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and a rash.
Basics of Allergy-Induced Asthma
Allergies can impact your life in several ways, including what you eat, the type of products you use, and how you breathe. When your allergies combine with asthma, you have allergic asthma.
Allergic asthma occurs when you breathe in allergens, such as mold spores, dander, or pollen, and your airways tighten in response. When you have an allergy, your body’s immune system responds and tries to protect you by releasing immunoglobulin E (IgE), a natural defense chemical your body creates.
In general, IgE is great, as it helps your body protect itself and fight back against danger. However, if too much IgE is released, it can cause your airways to tighten, resulting in difficulty breathing.
The allergen can thus trigger your asthma. Your airway lining becomes inflamed, thick excess mucus is created in your airways, and the muscles around your airways tighten.
The Commonness of Allergy-Induced Asthma
Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma. Around 25 million people in the U.S. have asthma. Approximately 5.1 million children have asthma. Allergic asthma impacts around 60% of people with asthma.
The symptoms associated with both allergic asthma and non-allergic asthma are the same.
Cause of Allergic Asthma
The exact cause of asthma is unknown. For those with allergic asthma, symptoms occur when inhaling an allergen, triggering an asthma attack.
Most Common Allergens that Trigger Asthma
Allergens exist all around you, and most are so small that they can’t be seen with the naked eye. It is essential to know what allergens trigger your asthma, so you can control your environment and thus your condition.
Mold: Mold is typically found in both moist and dark places. It isn’t big mold growths you need to worry about, though; it is the mold spores that they release into the air.
Pollen: Pollen is a powdery substance that comes from plants. Grass and weeds are the two types of pollen that most often trigger allergic asthma, although other pollen can also be a trigger.
Dander: Dander is the dry skin flakes that come off the skin. Most people are allergic to pet dander. Sometimes, dander and hair are grouped together and are common allergens.
Dust mites: Dust mites live on the soft surfaces of your home, such as clothing, carpets, and furniture coverings. They are very tiny and have bodies shaped like spiders. Dust mites and their feces are common allergens.
Cockroaches: The body parts, saliva, and feces of cockroaches can trigger asthma. Cockroaches are often found in homes and buildings.
Another common allergy-induced asthma trigger is seasonal allergies. Many people suffer seasonal allergies in the spring when many plants bloom.
Allergic Asthma Symptoms
The symptoms of allergic asthma are the same as those of other asthma types. These symptoms include:
Shortness of breath
These symptoms can be intense when you experience an allergy-induced asthma attack. You want a treatment plan to prevent and deal with severe asthma symptoms.
With allergy-induced asthma, you can also experience symptoms that are not as intense as asthma symptoms. Allergy symptoms include:
Itchy and watery eyes
When you experience an allergy-induced asthma attack, the feeling is similar to a regular asthma attack. Your airways tighten, making breathing hard, and you may cough, wheeze, and feel pressure in your chest.
The primary difference between an asthma attack and an allergy-induced asthma attack is the cause of the attack, which in this case is exposure to an allergen.
Diagnosing Allergic Asthma
We will run a range of tests to arrive at a diagnosis of allergic asthma.
Different allergens are applied to your skin with a skin test to see how you react to them. This can help us determine what allergen you breathe in that triggers your asthma.
To diagnose your asthma and ensure that you are not suffering from a different medical condition, we will run a series of additional tests:
Bronchoprovocation test: You will breathe in possible allergens in a controlled environment to see which ones cause a reaction. The allergen samples are very small to avoid triggering a severe reaction.
Exhaled nitric oxide test (FeNo test): With this test, we are measuring how much nitric oxide is in your breath. This will allow us to see if you are experiencing mild allergic asthma.
Spirometry: With this test, you breathe into a tube connected to a computer. As you breathe, information is collected about your breathing process.
Bronchodilator: With a bronchodilator, the performance of your airways and how relaxed they are, is measured before and after you take specific medications.
Peak Expiratory Flow Test: This is a spirometry test where you breathe as hard and fast as possible into a spirometry tube.
With allergic asthma, it is crucial to figure out what you are allergic to and diagnose your asthma.
We encourage you to keep notes about when you experience asthma or allergy symptoms. This can help us determine your allergy triggers and allow us to create a more detailed plan to control your allergic asthma.
Managing and Treating Allergic Asthma
With allergic asthma, our primary goal is to help you learn how to control your condition. There are a few different ways we can do this:
Identifying Triggers: Identifying your allergy triggers is extremely important. Once you know your allergy triggers, you can learn how to avoid them and control your interaction with them. This can help to reduce occurrences of allergic asthma attacks significantly.
Identifying Medications: Next, we will work with you to determine which medications are the best for you. Not every medication is right for every person, which is why we will work with you to find the best medication combination for your body.
Action plan: Finally, we will create an action plan with you so you know what medications to take, when to take them, and what to do if a medication doesn’t work.
You can control allergic asthma by learning your triggers, controlling the environment, and knowing what medications to take. This is a commonly occurring condition that you can manage.
Treatment for Allergy-Induced Asthma in Portland, Oregon
At West Hills Allergy & Asthma Associates, Dr. Anderson-Cowell has more than two decades of experience diagnosing and treating patients with allergy-induced asthma.
Her training and expertise make Dr. Anderson-Cowell an expert in treating patients who are dealing with allergy-induced asthma.
If you’re looking for expert diagnostic experience and effective treatment history, Dr. Anderson-Cowell can help. For a consultation, please call (503) 297-4779 or request an appointment online.
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