Studies show that nearly two thirds of asthma sufferers have allergies, underscoring a strong link between the two diseases. So what does one have to do with the other? It all starts with an allergic reaction to elements in the environment (mold, pet dander, dust, etc.) The immune system can erroneously perceive these harmless elements as threats and release chemicals (such as histamine) to fight them off. The chemicals cause the airways to become swollen and inflamed. Mucus can become lodged in the airways, and breathing becomes harder and harder.
So how do you know if your asthma is allergy-related? One strong indicator is if your asthma flares in the pollen-heavy seasons of spring and fall. That’s not foolproof, though. Some people may have year-round asthma because they are allergic to non-pollen allergens such as dust and mold which can be present year round.
If you have allergy symptoms in addition to asthma, that can be an indicator that your airway problems are allergy-related. So, too, can a family background of allergies.
Medications such as antihistamines and corticosteroids (administered through inhalers) can help reduce the inflammation of the airways that leads to asthma. Ongoing medication prices can be prohibitive, though, and it’s frustrating to have to keep administering it over and over.
If you suspect an allergy, talk to your doctor about your symptoms and the possibility of allergy testing. If you do have allergies, consider allergy treatment through shots or sublingual (under-the-tongue) allergy drops. It can be cheaper and less hassle than medications, but the biggest perk is that it can address the underlying allergy so that your asthma attacks become less severe or stop occurring altogether.