The great escape outdoors only brings with it the usual triggers when it comes to allergies and asthma. (And if you think spending time indoors makes you immune, think again: dust, mold, and pet dander can present themselves in the cleanest of households.)
Extreme sensitivities to things like certain foods, materials (e.g., latex in work gloves or bandages), or medications; grasses; or insect stings can set off any number of respiratory reactions, some of them very serious.
People with allergic asthma have the one-two punch of a combined condition: allergies along with asthma. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America points to allergic asthma as the most common form of asthma, affecting more than 25 million people. Not everyone who has allergies has asthma and not everyone who has asthma has allergies, but the two can and do often occur together. About 60 percent (6 out of 10) people living with asthma have allergic asthma.
Allergies happen when your body’s immune system treats something that’s normally harmless like an invader (allergen). You can have a reaction in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, or lining of the stomach or on the skin – sometimes with life-threatening anaphylaxis (an extremely severe reaction).
With asthma, airways or bronchial tubes to the lungs are always inflamed. You may experience swollen bronchial tubes and muscle tightening, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.
Allergic asthma occurs when allergens or substances in the air, from indoor dust to outside pollen, irritate and cause both sets of symptoms typical of allergies and asthma. Typical reactions can include dark under-eye circles; itchy, watery eyes; headache; sneezing; stuffy or runny nose; or tight, swollen breathing tubes. Asthma symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness begin.
Your doctor can test to help determine if you have allergies, asthma, or allergic asthma. Discuss over-the-counter and prescription options. He/she might recommend an allergy specialist. Some allergies can be avoided simply by reducing exposure to them (e.g., avoid tall grasses; remove pet hair from household surfaces; or try keeping your bedroom off limits first, before finding your cat or dog a new home!). Control your symptoms, breathe a sigh of relief, and feel better!
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano