Allergic asthma is a breathing disorder that occurs when the airways a person breathes through become narrow or are tightened due to the inhalation of or exposure to an allergen.
Some common allergens that are known to trigger an episode of allergic asthma include pollens, animal dander, and mold spores.
This form of asthma is more common in children, although it can also occur in adults. Here is a brief discussion about what allergy and asthma mean and the symptoms of these conditions.
Allergies occur due to the hypersensitive response of the immune system to certain substances. Allergies can occur due to what we eat, the products we use, and even the way we breathe.
Allergic asthma is a condition caused due to the tightening of the airways causing difficulty in breathing. The tightening or narrowing of the airways can occur due to the inhalation of something in the air such as pollen, dander, and mold spores. The specific allergens are also called triggers.
The allergens or triggers that can set off an attack of breathlessness in one patient may not affect other people. Hence, the treatment of asthma needs to be aimed at identifying and eliminating the specific substances to which that patient is allergic.
When a person is allergic to a substance, his or her body can create a response to that allergen believing it to be a threat. As a result, the immune cells fire up their defense mechanisms to contain or fight off the danger.
The immune system, in an attempt to attack and destroy the perceived danger, releases a type of antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE), which is meant to protect the body by fighting harmful invaders. However, an exaggerated response of the immune system can result in a higher amount of IgE being secreted by the immune cells. This can cause the airways to become swollen and narrower, making it difficult for the person to breathe.
The response of the immune system to an allergen can lead to the development of abnormal changes in the airways such as:
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Patients who have allergic asthma often develop typical symptoms such as:
These symptoms are often severe enough to necessitate a visit to an emergency room or hospital admission.
Some patients also experience symptoms that are not directly linked to breathing difficulty but could be closely related to allergies.
Some of thesesymptoms include:
These symptoms are usually less intense than the typical asthma symptoms such as breathing difficulty and wheezing in the chest.
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An asthma attack that is triggered due to an allergy often presents with a similar set of symptoms as that of the breathing difficulties caused due to factors other than an allergy. In both cases, the patient experiences a severe flaring up of the symptoms, especially difficultyin breathing and chest tightness.
However, the major factor that can help differentiate between these two forms of asthma is the cause of the attack. When a patient experiences severe asthma symptoms following exposure to or due to breathing in an allergen, it is more likely to be allergic asthma.
Also, in patients with allergic asthma, the symptoms tend to recur every time there is exposure to specific allergens while non-allergic asthma may occur at any time irrespective of the exposure to any specific substances.
There are more than hundreds of allergens that can be found all around us. They can be present in indoor as well as outdoor environments. It is important to identify what triggers asthma in a patient to help him or her avoid the attacks of breathlessness.
Some possible allergens that can trigger an attack of allergic asthma include:
While asthma can not be cured or prevented, it is possible to reduce the intensity and frequency of the attacks by identifying the triggers and controlling the environment of the patient.
Doctors and other healthcare professionals can attend our Respiratory Therapy Webinars to learn more about the common allergens that can trigger asthma and the best ways to manage this condition.