Around 24 million Americans have asthma in the US, and of those 24 million, about 60% have asthma triggered by allergies. For these people, being exposed to an allergy trigger can lead to a serious asthma attack. Here’s what you need to know about allergy-triggered asthma attacks:
What are Allergies?
Allergies are a very common problem. They occur when your immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, such as pollen, pet dander, or dust. When this happens, your body releases chemicals, such as histamine, that cause itching, sneezing, and watery eyes. Some people have more severe reactions, such as difficulty breathing. Allergies can be annoying, but they rarely pose a serious threat to your health. However, if you have a severe allergy, it can be life-threatening.
There are many different types of allergies, and each one has its own symptoms. The most common allergies include:
- Hay Fever
If you have allergies, you’re not alone. In the United States, it’s estimated that more than 50 million people suffer from some type of allergy. Allergies are also on the rise. In fact, they’re a leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the airways. The airways are the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. In people with asthma, the airways are always inflamed. They can become even more inflamed during an asthma attack.
Asthma attacks happen when the inflammation gets worse and the airways constrict and fill with mucus. This can cause wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma attacks can range from mild to severe.
Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening. Asthma is a leading cause of hospitalization in children and adults in the United States.
Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. With proper treatment, most people with asthma can live normal, active lives.
How Do Allergies Trigger an Asthma Attack?
It’s the symptoms of an allergic reaction that can trigger an asthma attack. Some allergic reactions involve nasal and chest congestion and inflammation, which puts a lot of strain on the asthma patient’s already inflamed airways. This strain can bring on an asthma attack.
How Are Allergy-Induced Asthma Attacks Treated?
Treatment of an acute asthma attack involves mitigating the asthma symptoms along with removing the allergy trigger.
For allergies, we typically recommend treatment with immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots. These shots expose the allergy-sufferer to their allergy trigger(s) in very small doses, conditioning their immune systems not to overreact when exposed to the triggers. This treatment takes time but is very successful.
There are many different medications that can help control asthma symptoms. Some of these medications are taken every day to control asthma, while others are only taken when needed for quick relief. Long-term asthma control medications include inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting beta agonists, long-acting antimuscarinics, and leukotriene modifiers. These medications help to reduce inflammation in the airways and make it easier to breathe. Quick-relief asthma medications include beta-agonists and oral corticosteroids. These medications provide relief from asthma symptoms within minutes to hours. There are also now injectable medications for severe asthma, taken every 2 to 8 weeks.
How You Can Prevent Allergy-Triggered Asthma Attacks
There are two main types of allergies that can trigger asthma: seasonal allergies and year-round allergies. Seasonal allergies, also called hay fever, are usually caused by pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. These allergies can be worse during certain times of the year, such as spring or fall. Year-round allergies are caused by indoor allergens, such as dust mites, mold, and pet dander.
Avoiding allergy triggers is also an important part of managing allergy-triggered asthma. If you have seasonal allergies, staying indoors on days when pollen counts are high can help to avoid triggers. If you have year-round allergies, vacuuming and dusting regularly can help to reduce allergens in your home.
Allergy and Asthma Treatment in Tampa Bay
Beat allergy-triggered asthma attacks by avoiding triggers and working with your doctor to create an asthma management plan, like the professionals here at Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Associates of Tampa Bay. We offer treatments such as allergy shots to reduce your immune response to allergy triggers while offering medication support for acute and chronic asthma symptoms. Call us at (813) 971-9743 or contact us online to schedule an appointment today.