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Understanding allergic asthma

Most asthma cases are caused by allergies.

Allergies are bad enough when they make your eyes water and your nose run.

But for millions of Americans, allergies are more than merely annoying—they're potentially dangerous. That's because many adults and children are living with allergic asthma, reports the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma. It accounts for most asthma cases.

Breathing in trouble

As is the case with all types of asthma, allergic asthma has these symptoms, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI):

  • Wheezing.
  • Coughing.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Chest tightness.

But unlike other kinds of asthma, allergic asthma is the result of an allergic reaction. A person who has allergic asthma develops symptoms after breathing in an allergen, such as pollen, mold spores or animal dander. The allergen causes passages in the airways of the lungs to become inflamed and swollen. This leads to an asthma attack.

In contrast, nonallergic asthma attacks are often triggered by irritants such as exercise, cold or dry air, respiratory infections, cigarette smoke, stress or anxiety.

Getting help

If you suspect you have allergic asthma, see your doctor.

Your doctor may ask you to keep a log of when your asthma symptoms flare up. Or your doctor may even suggest allergy testing.

If you do have allergic asthma, it's important to get the disease under control. That's because without proper treatment, asthma can be potentially life-threatening.

If the asthma is very mild, your only treatment may be trying to avoid whatever triggers your allergy.

But chances are you'll also be prescribed certain asthma medications. According to the AAAAI and the American College of Physicians, these may include:

  • A bronchodilator to ease breathing problems as soon as they develop.
  • Corticosteroids to help prevent asthma attacks.
  • Allergy shots to make you less sensitive to allergens.

Once it is diagnosed, allergic asthma can be effectively treated.

Reviewed 12/11/2022

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