Along with warmer weather and blooming flowers, the month of May brings Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month – a time to draw attention to these conditions and how they can intersect. More than 25 million people in the United States have asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), and allergic asthma is the most common type.1 Here, we’re highlighting some key information about allergic asthma, including symptoms, common triggers, and how allergy testing can support treatment.
Allergies and Asthma
Allergic asthma occurs when allergens trigger asthma symptoms. Though not everyone with allergies has asthma, and vice versa, approximately 60% of adults and 80% of kids2 with asthma have allergic triggers, according to the AAFA.1 To understand how these conditions can affect each other, it’s important to know more about them individually.
An allergic reaction happens when your body’s immune system flags an otherwise harmless substance (an allergen) as an invader. As a response, it produces antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) that travel to cells that release chemicals to combat these mistakenly “harmful” substances.3
Allergens can be introduced to the body by being inhaled, swallowed, touched, or injected, and while some allergy symptoms are mild, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) can be deadly.3 Allergies are common – various types affect over 50 million people in the U.S. each year, according to the AAFA.4
A breathing disorder that affects your lungs – asthma causes inflammation of the airways and recurring episodes of breathing difficulty, sometimes referred to as an asthma attack.5 Asthma symptoms include:6
- Chest tightness
- Coughing in the nighttime or early morning
This condition can affect both adults and children. According to the AAFA, there are approximately 5.1 million children with asthma under the age of 18.7
A potentially life-threatening disease, statistics show that asthma accounted for 4,145 fatalities in 2020 alone. The AAFA notes that most asthma deaths are avoidable with appropriate treatment and care. 7
Triggers of Allergic Asthma
For individuals with allergic asthma, the immune system’s production of IgE in response to an allergen can result in swelling of the airways in the lungs, making it harder to breathe and potentially causing an asthma attack.1 Because of this, an important step to managing both asthma and allergies is being aware of triggers so that you can avoid exposure.
Common allergic asthma triggers include:1
- Cockroaches: common in urban environments, these insects can be year-round triggers of allergies and asthma.
- Dust mites: these microscopic creatures can be found in mattresses, pillows, carpets, clothes, stuffed toys, and more.
- Mold: to reproduce, molds release spores and can grow on nearly anything where moisture is present – both indoors and outdoors.
- Pets: animal allergens include pet hair, dander, and saliva.
- Pollen: allergies to tree, grass, and weed pollen are often called seasonal allergies as they occur during certain times of the year, though pollen can linger in air ducts year-round.
Additional irritants that may trigger symptoms in people with allergic asthma include physical activity, respiratory infections, and tobacco smoke.5
Allergic Asthma Treatment and Testing
While there is no cure for allergies or asthma, your healthcare provider can help you keep these conditions under control. Allergy tests are a key component of managing allergic asthma. A skin or blood test can assist your healthcare provider with diagnosis and help determine your specific triggers. By understanding your sensitivities, you can avoid exposure and help prevent allergic reactions and subsequent asthma symptoms.1 Additional treatment components typically include drug therapies and developing an asthma action plan.8
Allergy Blood Testing with BioReference
BioReference’s ImmunoCAP™ Specific IgE testing can supply you and your healthcare provider with crucial information about your allergic triggers. Through a simple blood test, specific IgE testing measures the level of IgE antibodies in response to individual allergens and can aid healthcare providers in the creation of personalized treatment. Regional respiratory profiles can help pinpoint allergens specific to your local area, providing additional assistance for targeted therapy.
May is a peak season for people with asthma and allergies. This spring, take the time to help raise awareness for these prevalent conditions and consult your healthcare provider to see if allergy testing with BioReference is right for you.