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Allergy Versus Asthma — There Is a Difference

As spring approaches, you dread the wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing that always seem to come this time of year. The odds are good that these symptoms are related to allergies, asthma, or both.

At Forest Urgent Care, our team of medical experts has extensive experience helping patients weather breathing problems of all kinds, whether it’s something temporary like bronchitis, or more chronic, like allergies and asthma.

To help you better understand these two separate conditions, we take a closer look at how asthma and allergies can be connected. Or not.

Understanding asthma

At its core, asthma is a problem that stems from inflammation in your airways, causing your bronchial tubes to constrict, which can hamper your ability to breathe freely. There are many triggers that cause an asthma attack, including:

Of the 25 million people in the United States who are diagnosed with asthma, allergic asthma is the most common, accounting for 60% of asthma sufferers. What this means is that an allergen, such as pollen, mold, or dust mites, triggers the asthma attack.

Understanding allergies

Allergies signal a problem with your immune system, which mistakenly reacts to something that isn’t necessarily dangerous, such as pollen. The substances your body reacts to are called allergens.

While a person can be allergic to just about anything, there are some allergens that are far more common, including:

While many allergic reactions include problems in your airways, that’s not always the case. For example, a food allergy can present itself as hives or a rash on your skin.

Treating allergies and asthma

If you’re unsure which problem you may have developed, the first step is to undergo allergy testing. If we find that your body reacts to certain substances, we can confirm that you have allergies.

If your allergic reaction leads to an asthma attack, our goal is to control the allergies to avoid these attacks, which we can do through medications, immunotherapies, and trigger avoidance plans.

If your asthma doesn’t appear to be triggered by allergies, we treat the problem separately with medications, most often delivered via inhalers or nebulizers. Here again, we also recommend a good trigger avoidance plan so that you can better manage your asthma attacks.

The bottom line is that while there is a fair amount of crossover between allergies and asthma, they can also be standalone conditions. To find relief, the best course of action is to have us review your symptoms and run some tests so that you have the tools you need to breathe easier.

To get to the bottom of your breathing problem, contact one of our two New York locations in Forest Hills or Hunters Point in Long Island City. We also offer telehealth services if you’d prefer to seek our counsel from the comfort of your own home.

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