Allergic (extrinsic) asthma is characterized by symptoms that are triggered by an allergic reaction. Allergic asthma is airway obstruction and inflammation that is partially reversible with medication. Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma, affecting over 50% of the 20 million asthma sufferers.Over 2.5 million children under age 18 suffer from allergic asthma. Many of the symptoms of allergic and non-allergic asthma are the same (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or rapid breathing, and chest tightness). However, allergic asthma is triggered by inhaled allergens such as dust mite allergen, pet dander, pollen, mold, etc. resulting in asthma symptoms.
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Allergies and asthma often occur together. The same substances that trigger your hay fever symptoms may also cause asthma signs and symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. This is called allergic asthma or allergy-induced asthma. Substances such as pollen, dust mites and pet dander are common triggers. In some people, skin or food allergies can cause asthma symptoms.
An allergic response occurs when immune system chemicals (antibodies) mistakenly identify a harmless substance such as tree pollen as a dangerous invader. In an attempt to protect your body from the substance, antibodies attack the allergen. The chemicals released by your immune system lead to allergy signs and symptoms, such as nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes or skin reactions. For some people, this same reaction also affects the lungs and airways, leading to asthma symptoms.
The main symptoms are coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and a tight feeling in the chest.
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Difference Between Allergy and non-Allergic Asthma:
Allergic asthma symptoms are similar to the non-allergy asthma ones. Both types of sufferers experience wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, sleep troubles. The early warning symptoms can be signs of frequent colds such as sneezing, sore throat, nasal congestion, running nose, or a permanent feeling of tiredness and bad mood. While both types of asthma manifest the same symptoms, the difference is made by the trigger of these symptoms. In case of allergic asthma, attacks are triggered by allergens such as pollens, pet dander, mold or dust. This is why all asthma sufferers need to be aware of their type of asthma, so they can apply preventive measures such as eating healthy foods and staying away from allergens. It is very important that allergic asthma sufferers try not to get in contact with the substances they are allergic to (allergens). These substances are easy to be determined by running some special tests, which any allergology lab can do.
Asthma often runs in ‘atopic’ families. Children are also more likely to develop asthma if their mother smoked during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Most people find several things trigger their asthma. Some of the most common predisposing factors for asthma are allergies to:
•House dust mites
•Food or food preservatives
Asthma triggers include:
•Viral infections, such as colds and flu
•Certain forms of exercise, such as running
•Exposure to cold, dry air
•Laughing and other emotions
•Medication containing aspirin
•Drinks containing sulphur dioxide, such as squashes and lemon barley water
Some treatment can reduce both asthma and allergy symptoms, but most are designed to treat either one or the other. A few treatments can help with both conditions.
There are two main treatments for asthma:
•Relievers – salbutamol and terbutaline
•Preventers – beclomethasone, budesonide, fluticasone, mometasone and ciclesonide
These all come in a variety of delivery devices, such as aerosol or powder inhalers and nebulisers. You breathe the medicine in through your mouth, directly into your lungs.
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Relievers are drugs called bronchodilators (based on adrenaline) that relax the muscles which surround the airways, making it easier to breathe. You should take these as directed by your doctor as soon as symptoms appear.
Taking a dose of the reliever inhaler before exercise will increase your stamina and prevent breathing difficulty.
Preventers are drugs (usually low-dose steroids) that reduce inflammation in the airways and make them less sensitive. This means you’re less likely to react when exposed to a trigger.
The protective effect of this medicine is built up over a period of time, so you must take your preventer regularly, as directed by your doctor.
Combination preventer and long-acting reliever (formoterol and salmeterol) inhalers have become popular and seem to be particularly good at controlling more severe and persistent asthma.
If your asthma is really bad, your doctor may also prescribe a short course of steroid tablets to calm your inflamed airways.
Newer anti-inflammatory medication includes leukotriene receptor antagonists (montelukast and zafirlukast), which are particularly useful for brittle asthma and patients with aspirin-sensitive asthma.
The most recent addition to the list of possible treatments for asthma is a new injection medication (omalizumab) for those with severe allergic asthma, which works by dampening down the IgE allergic reaction.
An older orally administered bronchodilator, theophylline, isn’t often used these days owing to its unpredictable toxic side-effects and need for blood testing.
There is little scientific evidence to support the use of breathing exercises, such as Buteyko, in the treatment of asthma. However, some people with asthma find breathing exercises calm their symptoms and reduce their need for reliever medication.
You may need other medications to treat allergies or asthma, especially if your symptoms become severe at times. However, recognizing and avoiding the allergic substances that trigger your symptoms is the most important step you can take.
Who’s at risk of allergic asthma?
A family history of allergies is a major risk factor for allergic asthma. Having hay fever or other allergies yourself also increases your risk of getting asthma.
Allergic Asthma Preventive Measures:
If you’ve already been diagnosed with allery or allergic asthma, then you should also have a list of allergens you are sensitive to. It is not a joke, you need to stay away as much as you can from getting in contact with those allergens, if you want your allergic asthma not to bother you very often. Living a symptom-free life is possible in a big degree, but you need to understand how serious this allergic asthma issue has to be treated. Maybe this means that you’ll need to stay indoors in the days with high pollen activity, or maybe you won’t be allowed to eat strawberries again for the rest of your life. Understand that your lifestyle could change forever after you’ve found out that you suffer from allergy or allergic asthma.
Is all asthma caused by allergies?
Though allergic asthma is the one of the most common kinds of asthma, there are other types with different kinds of triggers. For example, for some people, asthma can be triggered by exercise, infections, cold air or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Many people have more than one kind of asthma trigger.
Pediatric asthma is one of the most delicate conditions that affect children of all ages. Before getting to the pediatric asthma treatment, we have to talk about the correct diagnosis, as this is a very hard thing to accomplish. Small children and infants cannot tell what bothers them, so the symptoms have to be guessed first by parents, and then by doctors. If a parent doesn’t suspect anything abnormal in their child, why would they seek for pediatric medical consultation? Children get frequent colds and childhood diseases, so there’s another reason for parents not getting too worried if their child coughs and has difficulties in breathing.
Can one prevent asthma?
You can help to avoid asthma attacks by taking preventer medicine regularly and avoiding your triggers. You can also monitor your asthma by asking your doctor to provide you with a peak flow meter, a simple device that measures the amount of breath in your lungs.
Most childhood asthma is caused by an allergy. Skin-prick and RAST tests may be able to discover the allergen. Practical steps can then be taken to avoid it, be it house dust mites, cats, dogs or other pets. Even mould spores and pollen grains can trigger seasonal asthma attacks.
If you’re prone to sudden or severe asthma attacks, keep asthma diary cards and a peak flow meter on hand to monitor your lung airflow so you can take early action.
Discuss an asthma action plan with your GP, who may issue an emergency supply of oral steroid pills. You may need to increase your medication dosage if your peak flow measurement drops steadily.
Remember, never stop taking your preventer medication, even when your symptoms are stable. Don’t wait until your symptoms get worse – they’ll be harder to treat.
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Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.