People who have allergies often also have asthma. And people with asthma often have allergies. While the two may not seem related, studies show about two-thirds or more of those with asthma also have an allergy. May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, a great time to look at your symptoms and figure out if you’re suffering from asthma, allergies, or both.
Many people don’t realize that the same things that trigger your seasonal hay fever symptoms – things like pollen, dust mites, mold and pet dander – can also cause asthma symptoms. The American College of Allergy, and Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), recommends that if you have allergies, and you are wheezing or coughing, you should see an allergist to find out if you also have asthma. Allergists are specialists at treating asthma and can put together a treatment plan to help you deal with both allergies and asthma.
Allergic asthma – where allergies are triggers for asthma symptoms – is the most common type of asthma. Researchers have long known that the frequency of children with allergies who also have asthma can be as high as 90 percent. Recent research has shown that about 75 percent of adults aged 20-40 with asthma, and 65 percent of those with asthma aged 55 years and older, have at least one allergy.
Effective treatment of allergic asthma includes identifying and avoiding allergens that trigger symptoms. After diagnosing asthma, allergists often move on to using drug therapies and developing an emergency action plan to deal with severe attacks. If you can cut down on the number of allergens in your life, you may also be able to reduce asthma symptoms.
Here are some tips from ACAAI to help you avoid the allergens that trigger your asthma:
- Immunotherapy (allergy shots) can reduce sensitivity to the allergens that trigger asthma attacks and significantly reduce the severity of the disease. It might even prevent the development of asthma in some children with seasonal allergies.
- One of the best ways to avoid allergy symptoms is to avoid offending allergens. If pollen is a seasonal trigger:
- Keep windows closed during pollen season, especially during the day.
- Know which pollens you are sensitive to and then check pollen counts. Try to avoid going outside when pollen counts are highest. In spring and summer, during tree and grass pollen season, levels are highest in the evening. In late summer and early fall, during ragweed pollen season, levels are highest in the morning.
- Take a shower, wash your hair, and change clothing after working or playing outdoors.
- Don’t wear shoes in the house – the soles can attract pollen which can be left on
carpeting and other surfaces.
- Bathrooms, basements and other tiled areas can be especially prone to mold. The key to reducing mold is moisture control. Use bathroom fans and clean up any standing water immediately. Scrub any visible mold from surfaces with detergent and water, and completely dry.
- You can help ward off dust mites and mold by keeping home humidity below 50 percent and cleaning gutters regularly. Do not use vaporizers or humidifiers.
- Remove pet allergens by vacuuming frequently and washing upholstery, including your pet’s bed. Be sure to always keep your pet out of the bedroom to ensure you can sleep symptom-free.
To find an allergist near you who can help create a personal plan to deal with your allergies and asthma, use the ACAAI allergist locator.
The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.