How to Distinguish Between Asthma and Allergies

Asthma and allergies are different conditions but may often exhibit the same or similar types of symptoms. Allergies are the body’s immune system’s first line of defense in fighting off unwanted foreign invaders like pollen, mold spores, dust, or even pet dander. Allergic reactions are normal and occur in just about everyone to varying degrees.

Asthma is different than allergies. Although allergies can induce a bout of asthma, or even bring on an asthma attack, it is very different from simple allergies. Asthma is a disease of the bronchial tubes or air passages in the lungs. Asthma can run in families, passed from generation to generation, or it can be acquired at any time in life.

Symptoms of Asthma Are Similar to Allergy Symptoms

This is a critical point to understand. While allergy symptoms may be similar to asthma symptoms, it’s important to be able to distinguish between the two. Some symptoms may only be associated with asthma-like shortness of breath, tightness in the chest or lungs, pain, coughing, or even wheezing. Yes, some of these may be similar to allergic reactions so there needs to be more investigation of additional symptoms that may indicate asthma.

Symptoms of asthma will most likely be different for every person so it’s important to get professional advice and see a doctor. Since symptoms are different for everyone, it’s critical to know one’s individual, specific symptoms that may signal an oncoming asthma attack. What’s even more important is to know ahead of time what to do in case these symptoms show up.

Make an Asthma Control Plan With a Doctor

Asthma is a tricky disease and its exact cause is not known to modern medical science. It can come upon some folks without any warning, usually early in life. It can come upon on any profession whether a labor, a factory worker, a call center executive, a staff at unique casino or a bar tender. Researchers think that a combination of genetic predisposition and exposure to certain environmental factors tend to cause the disease to develop. Its symptoms are as unique as the 22 million Americans who have asthma so it’s vital to have a plan before asthma strikes.

Consult a doctor and develop a specific asthma treatment plan. This written plan outlines the various specific treatment steps one must take when suspecting the onset of asthma. Asthma may change over a period of time so it’s important to check with a doctor on a regular basis to make possible adjustments to one’s particular treatment plan. Asthma that is not well controlled increases the likelihood of possible future, more severe asthma attacks.

Asthma Symptoms–It’s Time to See a Doctor

In addition to the allergy-like symptoms listed above, other signs of an oncoming asthma attack are moderate to severe shortness of breath, low peak expiratory flow is indicated when using a peak flow meter, and if a rescue or quick-relief inhaler does not significantly slow down or stop worsening symptoms.

A doctor can help to outline a written plan or series of treatments that can help to recognize the early warning signs of a possible mild or severe asthma attack. If peak expiratory flow readings improve and symptoms seem to be subsiding, then treatment at home will most likely be enough to fend off an attack. If these home treatments don’t make the situation better, it may be time to seek help at the local emergency room.

If one experiences severe breathlessness, excessive wheezing at night or early in the morning, cannot speak more than a short phrase due to shortness of breath must strain the chest muscles to breathe, or if extremely low peak meter readings are indicated, it’s best to seek medical attention immediately as these are most likely the warning signs that a severe asthma attack is imminent.

This article is for informational purposes only. The information provided herein is of a general nature and should not be substituted as advice from a qualified medical professional.

Allergies and Asthma Often Occur Together

Allergies can occur when a foreign substance causes the immune system to react to an invading substance in the body such as dust, pollen, or pet dander. The body produces protein antibodies that are the body’s first line of defense against any sort of foreign material that could possibly make one sick or cause some sort of infection. Coughing, sneezing, and wheezing are all signs of an allergic reaction.

Asthma affects about 22 million Americans and is a chronic airway inflammatory disease that causes difficulty in breathing. Asthma constricts the airways, literally making them smaller and therefore harder to breathe. Symptoms of asthma can include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and tightness in the chest. Asthma is sometimes referred to as bronchial asthma.

Similar Symptoms of Allergies and Asthma

Both allergies and asthma create problems for people, often making them miserable. Allergies and asthma can be related and can happen together. Some asthma is referred to as allergy-induced asthma or allergic asthma and is the most common type of asthma found in the U.S. today.

What happens is the same foreign substances that can trigger an allergic reaction can also cause inflammation in a person’s breathing airways. Those allergic reactions can trigger an allergic response that leads to the onset of asthma, or an asthma attack. Similar symptoms like coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath often occur together and can be difficult to distinguish.

Allergies May Trigger Asthma in Some People

Allergic reactions to things like dust, pollen, or cat dander have proteins that release certain chemicals and react with human antibodies causing a reaction like a runny nose, swelling in the lining of the nose (stuffiness), or swelling in the airways. If a person also has asthma, these first allergic reactions can then cause additional swelling in the airways and trigger the onset of asthma.

The combination of allergies and asthma can cause serious airway obstruction, difficulty in breathing, and even result in death by suffocation. Folks who have allergies need to be aware of the substances that trigger an allergic response. Folks who also have asthma on top of the allergic reaction need to be doubly careful to avoid any situations or exposure to substances that may trigger and allergy-induced asthma.

Medications and Treatments Available for Allergies and Asthma

Corticosteroids can be sprayed directly into the nose for almost instantaneous relief from hay fever symptoms. Corticosteroid creams are applied to the skin to reduce or prevent an allergic reaction on the skin. Corticosteroids can also be inhaled through a device called an “inhaler” and can provide almost instant relief of inflammation in the airways that cause asthma.

Leukotriene modifiers like SINGULAIR assist the body’s immune system in regulating chemicals during an allergic reaction. Leukotrienes are used in the treatment of both allergies and asthma and are available in the form of a pill. Antihistamines are usually used to treat ha fever or other allergic reactions but may not work as well in treating the symptoms of asthma. Bronchodilators treat asthma effectively but are not used to treat allergic reactions like hay fever.

There are some types of medications that can be effective in treating both allergies and asthma. But dosing may sometimes be a bit tricky or confusing. Some of these medications are in the form of sprays, inhalers, pills, creams, and other types. That’s why it’s best to make an appointment to see the doctor first. The doctor may provide a referral for another doctor that specializes in allergies.

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