Nearly one-third of adults and 40% of children in the United States have allergies and almost 25 million Americans of all ages suffer from asthma. In as many as half of cases of asthma, allergies are also present, which means there’s considerable cross over between the two conditions.
At Forest Urgent Care, the team of expertly trained healthcare providers routinely treat patients for both allergies and asthma, helping them breathe a little easier.
To give you a better understanding of the differences and similarities between asthma and allergies, here’s a look at how the two conditions break out and when they may be related.
An allergy is a response by your immune system to something it mistakenly believes is harmful, making that substance an allergen. There are dozens of types of allergens, but the most common include:
- Dust mites
- Animal dander
- Insect stings
While allergens are incredibly diverse, so are the allergic reactions. The most common reactions include:
- Hay fever, complete with a runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing
- Swelling in your throat
- Gastrointestinal upset
In severe cases, an allergic reaction can lead to anaphylactic shock, which is a life-threatening event.
Asthma is a condition that causes your airways to narrow and swell, making it difficult to breathe. Another hallmark of asthma is an overproduction of mucus, which can cause wheezing and coughing.
What triggers an asthma attack is where allergies and asthma cross over. For some asthma sufferers, exercise or the environment (cold air, pollution) can trigger an attack, but many suffer from allergy-induced asthma, which means that the asthma is part and parcel of the allergic response.
Distinguishing the difference
What happens in your body during an allergic response and an asthma attack are very similar. When your body is exposed to an allergen or irritant, it responds by attaching antibodies to the allergen. Then your immune system releases histamines, which create the outward signs of an allergic response. When this response involves your lungs and airways, it’s likely that your symptoms become asthmatic.
In many cases, untreated allergies can pave the way for asthma to take hold, so treating your allergies as they crop up may be a good way to prevent the onset of asthma.
To determine whether you’re suffering from allergies, asthma, or both, we can perform tests to get to the bottom of the problem. Once we identify the allergen and your triggers, we can devise a treatment plan that helps you counter your allergies, as well as the involvement of your airways. There are some medications that tackle both, but we often find that by controlling your allergies, we can control or prevent asthma symptoms.
Whether you’re suffering from allergies or asthma, the best plan is a preventive one, and we can help. Simply call one of our two New York offices in Forest Hills or Long Island City, or schedule an appointment while you’re here on the website. If you’re having acute asthma symptoms and need immediate treatment, just walk in to one of our urgent care clinics.