Individuals suffering from sneezing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath all at once may have allergic asthma, which in turn can affect their quality of life.
However, there are many ways to manage this allergic condition, according to a medical expert from the Cleveland Clinic. Organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that over 260 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, although tests, examinations, and diagnoses vary from country to country.
Dr. Ronald Purcell, an allergy and immunology specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, explains that allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma and is mainly caused by environmental factors.
He added, “When allergy symptoms occur with asthma, this condition is called allergic asthma, which leads to narrowing of the airways every time the individual inhales an allergen.
While many allergens can cause allergic asthma, they all share one thing in common, which is that they are all present in the environment around us, rather than food or medication.”
He noted that environmental allergens can include pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, mold, and pollen.
When pollen or mold spores are the triggers behind this type of allergy, it only occurs seasonally. However, if pets or dust mites on the bed cause allergies, the symptoms may persist throughout the year.
“A person with allergic asthma will likely experience symptoms of allergic rhinitis and lung symptoms at the same time. Allergic rhinitis or hay fever affects the nose and sinuses and can cause symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, and itching of the nose and eyes. On the other hand, asthma mainly affects the lungs and can cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness,” Dr Purcell said.
Furthermore, he pointed out that symptoms of allergic asthma in children can be more accurate, as children may tell their parents that they are very tired and cannot play, but parents should check for symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, or any difficulty breathing.
Tests and treatment
According to Dr Purcell, an allergy test can help identify the causes of allergies, and additional tests can confirm whether or not a person has asthma.
Once allergic asthma is diagnosed, identifying and avoiding triggers can help control symptoms.
To reduce allergens in the home, Dr Purcell recommends the following:
Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to reduce airborne allergens.
Limit exposure to pets or avoid them if necessary.
Use special covers to prevent dust mites from settling on mattresses and ensure indoor humidity levels remain at 35% to reduce exposure to dust mites.
Dispose of food scraps that may attract cockroaches or store them in tightly sealed containers, and clean kitchen floors and surfaces regularly.
Change clothes and shower upon entering the home if there is an individual that has pollen allergies, and close doors and windows when there are large amounts of pollen present.
Check for any signs or forms of mold and get rid of them. Mold can develop and spread in indoor spaces if there is any unwanted source of moisture, such as plumbing leaks.
Moreover, Dr Purcell noted that the good news is that there are available treatments for allergic asthma today, especially medications and inhalers, which are highly effective, relatively easy to use, and have few side effects.
“In cases where severe symptoms do not respond to medication or where triggers cannot be avoided, a treatment program that includes allergy shots -immunotherapy for allergies- can be highly effective. These shots help build the individual’s tolerance against allergens such as cat and dog dander, dust mites, mold spores, and pollen from trees, plants, or weeds. These shots can reduce allergic asthma, as well as inflammation of the nose and conjunctiva in the eyes,” Dr Purcell added.
However, Dr Purcell warned that while allergy shots are generally suitable for adults and children over the age of five, they are not suitable for everyone.
For example, people with severe heart disease, or those who need to take medications such as beta blockers to lower blood pressure, are not good candidates for this type of injection.
Dr Purcell concluded by emphasizing the importance of individuals not giving in and letting allergic asthma affect their quality of life and instead working with healthcare providers to manage the condition so that it never limits the activities they love, as working with a specialist can help identify a suitable treatment plan.