A Guide to Allergic Asthma: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Written by Eve Bandusena | Parents Avenue’s Editorial Assistant

Image Source: Freepik
According to Asthma Malaysia, Asthma is a non-curable lung disease that could affect anyone as young as 6 years old. With 2 million sufferers with 90% of uncontrolled cases and 50% of children wheezing by the age of 6. Let’s probe a little deeper in Allergic Asthma, the most common type of Asthma among children and adults.\

What is an allergic asthma?

 

Allergic asthma is the most frequent type of asthma. In Malaysia alone, individuals with allergic asthma occur most notably in children and young adults. This type of asthma is the product of an allergic reaction.

Most of the time, our immune systems are programmed to fight off infections, however, it does just the opposite for people with allergic asthmas.

When the body detects allergens, which is typically normal and harmless to most people, they interpret these as foreign and attacks them. As a result, this immune attack leads to asthmatic symptoms.
 
However, not all asthma is considered allergic. This can be called intrinsic asthma. While the symptoms that are felt aren’t different, the causes are.

Much of the cause may be an infection, or, an irritant such as pollutants like cigarette smoke or detergent products. Other factors that influence intrinsic asthma are changes in the weather and strong scents. 

In allergic asthma, as well as non-allergic asthma, an asthma attack can be fatal. As a result, a person may wish to talk to their doctor about identifying asthma triggers to reduce the likelihood of an attack.

 

 

Image Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

 

Symptoms of allergic asthma
 

For allergic asthma symptoms, many of the symptoms of allergic and non-allergic are the same and typically include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
Allergic asthma symptoms can be triggered by:
 
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Animal dander
  • Dust mites
  • Cockroaches
  • Mold
  • Pollen

If you swallowed the allergen, these symptoms might be present itself as:

  • Hives
  • Swollen mouth, tongue, throat or lips
  • Tingly mouth
  • Anaphylaxis

 

Causes of allergic asthma

Unfortunately, doctors are unsure why some people have allergic asthma and some don’t. However, it has been found to run in families. People living with allergic asthma have a larger tendency to also inherit atopic dermatitis, eczema, allergic rhinitis, or hay fever.
 
Every individual suffering from allergic asthma may have different triggers. For some people, these allergens bring no symptoms. In others, they can make breathing challenging and bring about an asthma attack.
 
Whenever a person who is sensitive towards an allergen and experiences exposure to it, their immune system starts releasing the compound immunoglobulin E, or IgE. Excess IgE in the body can then trigger the release of other substances that may cause airway inflammation.
 
 Excess amounts of IgE causes a process that makes the airways smaller. Breathing through smaller airways is more difficult and challenging than through larger ones.
 
Image Source: Freepik

 Avoiding Allergens

 To help manage allergic asthma, the prevention of inhaling allergens needs to happen for people living with this condition. Below are some ways to do so:
 
  • Stay indoors when pollen counts reach their peak
To ensure no pollen enters the establishment, keep windows closed at all times, use air conditioner with a clean air filter. Avoid using old, musty, or moldy air conditioners with those odors.
 
  • Avert dust mites
These critters live in carpets and the fabrics of your home. It’s probably best to wrap your pillows and mattresses. Be sure to wash your bed sheets and beddings in hot water once a week. If possible, always remove areas where dust gathers such as heavy curtains, piles of clothing, stuffed toys and dusting with damp rags to minimize dust in the air.
 
  • Control indoor humidity
For this, you’ll need to check if the indoor humidity is above 40% and for this, you’ll need an indoor humidity meter. Use a dehumidifier or an air conditioner, this will dry the air and slow down the growth of molds, cockroaches and house dust mites.
 
  • Pet allergies
If you own any pets, try to get them tested to see if they’re the culprit to your problem. If they are, be sure to keep them outdoors most time and or, you’ll need them to find another home. High amounts of cat allergens can stay around for a few months even after the cats aren’t there anymore. You can try washing your pet each week, however, it wouldn’t make much of a difference in the level of allergens.
 
  • Make sure your kitchen and bathroom are constantly clean and dry.
This is to prevent mold growth and cockroaches. If you’re still spotting these critters crawling around then you’ll need to contact a pest control company as insect sprays aren’t as effective. You’ll need to get rid of all sources of leftover food, even little bits of crumbs on the carpet or the sofa of your home, if not, these critters will keep on coming back.
 
  • Be cautious doing outside work
When you’re doing outside work like gardening and raking be cautious because it stirs up pollen and mold. Try wearing a mask while outside to reduce the amount pollen and mold that will enter your lungs.
 
 
Image Source: www.sommerwhitemd.com

Treatments 

 

 There is no cure for asthma. However, there are medical treatments that can prevent allergic reactions as well as treat asthma symptoms. Doctors may also prescribe treatments to reduce airway irritation if a person experiences an asthma attack, and to prevent asthma symptoms and airway inflammation over the long term.

Examples of these treatments according to Medical News Today include:

  • Short-acting inhalers: These medications quickly open up the airways, helping a person breathe more easily. Doctors often call them to rescue inhalers because a person can use them quickly when they are having a hard time breathing.
  • Long-acting inhalers: People use these medications to keep the airways open for a longer period than short-acting inhalers.
  • Inhaled corticosteroids: This medication helps to reduce airway inflammation and prevent asthma symptoms.
  • Leukotriene modifiers: These drugs reduce the amount of airway swelling in some of those with asthma. They can also relax the airways, ideally making it easier to breathe.

In addition to medications to treat breathing symptoms, a doctor may recommend taking medications to reduce the body’s response to allergen exposure. These drugs are more helpful for people with other allergy symptoms in addition to asthma.

Many medications are available over the counter. Examples include:
 
  • Cetirizine, brand name Zyrtec
  • ·Fexofenadine, brand name Allegra
  • Loratadine, brand name Claritin
  • Levocetirizine, brand name Xyzal
These medications help to block the body’s response to allergens. While they will not cure allergic asthma, they may help reduce the severity of an allergic response. A doctor may recommend allergy immunotherapy to help someone who has allergic asthma. This is a process that exposes the body to small and increasing amounts of an allergen. Exposure in this way can desensitize a person to the allergen, reducing the chances of their immune system triggering an asthma attack or other symptoms. Doctors give immunotherapy treatments via shots or tablets that dissolve under the tongue.
 

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases. At Parents Avenue, we strongly recommend all our readers to seek medical advise from your local hospital or clinic. Thank you. 

 
 

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