The same substances that trigger your hay fever symptoms may also cause asthma signs and symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. This is called allergic asthma or allergy-induced asthma. Certain substances, such as pollen, dust mites and pet dander, are common triggers. In some people, skin or food allergies can cause asthma symptoms. James T C Li, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic allergy specialist, answers questions about the link between allergies and asthma.
How does an allergic reaction cause asthma symptoms?
An allergic response occurs when immune system proteins (antibodies) mistakenly identify a harmless substance, such as tree pollen, as an invader. In an attempt to protect your body from the substance, antibodies bind to the allergen. The chemicals released by your immune system lead to allergy signs and symptoms, such as nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes or skin reactions. For some people, this same reaction also affects the lungs and airways, leading to asthma symptoms.
Who’s at risk of allergic asthma?
A family history of allergies is a major risk factor for allergic asthma. Having hay fever or other allergies yourself also increases your risk of getting asthma.
Is all asthma caused by allergies?
Though allergic asthma is very common, there are other types of asthma with different kinds of triggers. For example, for some people, asthma can be triggered by exercise, infections, cold air, gastro esophageal reflux disease or stress. Many people have more than one kind of asthma trigger.
Get symptoms under control, know the things that trigger your allergy and asthma symptoms and learn how to limit your exposure to them.
Work with your doctor to find the best treatment to manage your symptoms, and check in with your doctor on a regular basis.
Because allergy and asthma symptoms can change over time, you may need to adjust your treatment accordingly.
Learn the signs that your asthma may be flaring up— and know what to do when it does.