Allergies and Asthma Often Go Hand in Hand 

More than half of all asthma cases are triggered by an allergic reaction

DAYTON, Ohio (March 13, 2015) – Allergy-induced asthma is the most common form of asthma, affecting more than 50 percent of the 20 million asthma sufferers in America, according to The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). 

Understanding the correlation between asthma and allergies is important because it can help educate individuals on the type of triggers that set off their asthma and play a vital role in receiving the best possible care for the disease, said Chandan Gupta, MD, a primary care physician with Monroe Medical Center.

“The basic principle is the same for both asthma and allergies,” Dr. Gupta said. “In both cases, the body’s immune system – which is designed to fight off viruses and bacteria – is working extra hard attacking substances such as pet dander and pollen that would likely not be harmful to the body.”

For many allergy sufferers, the result is an allergic reaction that can come in the form of watery eyes, dry skin or nasal congestion. A similar reaction can occur in someone’s respiratory system when a person inhales the allergens. Bronchial spasms, tightness of chest, wheezing and shortness of breath, and a persistent cough create what is known as allergy-induced asthma or allergic asthma, said Dr. Gupta, who practices with Premier HealthNet.

Allergy-induced asthma can develop at any point in a person’s life. These individuals have always been hypersensitive to allergens, but up to the point of diagnosis, their body has not reacted to them in a way that merits medical attention. It depends on how much exposure an individual has had to allergens. They may be unaware of their body’s sensitivity to a substance until they cross a certain threshold of exposure, Dr. Gupta said.

All of those who do develop the condition do not necessarily experience it their whole lives. More than 2.5 million children under the age of 18 suffer from allergic asthma, the AAFA said. About 30 to 50 percent of children who experience allergic asthma at the age of one will outgrow it by the time they go through puberty.

Researchers at the AAFA have found a strong hereditary component to the disease, however, they have yet to identify the gene that causes it.

“People who have a first-degree relative with asthma or allergies are at a higher risk for developing allergic asthma,” Dr. Gupta said. “We have not been able to track a genetic pattern to the disease, but clinically we know there is a strong correlation.”

More often than not, a patient will first come to Dr. Gupta with a complaint of a persistent cough or wheezing not knowing that they are experiencing asthma. An initial diagnosis may prompt further allergy testing to help pinpoint the specific cause of the allergic reaction. This can be vital in determining a course of treatment, which can include a variety of medications including oral allergy medication and steroid inhalers to help prevent inflammation, Dr. Gupta said.

A person is unable to change their genetics, but they can take steps to help reduce their risk for asthma attacks. Lifestyle changes play an important role in keeping allergy-induced asthma under control.

Know Your Triggers – Take measures to avoid triggers at all costs. Stay indoors on days when the weather conditions are known to irritate your asthma. Know the best sources to check for the day’s allergen counts and then adjust your day accordingly.

Stop Smoking – People with mild to moderate asthma who smoke cigarettes have worse symptoms, are more likely to go to the hospital for an asthma attack and often have a different type of airway inflammation than non-smokers with asthma, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology said.

Control Your Environment – Make changes around your home to reduce allergens that trigger asthma. Clean air ducts and furnace filters regularly. Use allergy mattress and pillow covers. Remove carpet from bedrooms. Limit exposure to animals by keeping pets out of allergy sufferers’ bedrooms.

Protect Against Hidden Culprits – Have your home tested for allergy-causing pests such as cockroaches. Seal any leaks in pipes that may create mold and make sure the humidity level is set below 50 percent.

For more information about allergy-induced asthma or to find a Premier HealthNet doctor visit:

Contact Us

Discover more about Premier Health and join us in building healthier communities in Southwest Ohio. Learn more about working at Premier Health, becoming a volunteer, and making a gift to support our mission.