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Allergic asthma is asthma caused by an allergic reaction. It’s also known as allergy-induced asthma. You may have allergic asthma if you have trouble breathing during allergy season.
People with allergic asthma usually start feeling symptoms after inhaling an allergen such as pollen. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that more than half of people with asthma have allergic asthma. Allergic asthma is treatable in most cases.
You develop allergies when your immune system overreacts to the presence of a harmless substance called an allergen. Some people may develop breathing problems from inhaling allergens. This is known as allergic asthma. It occurs when the airways swell as part of an allergic reaction.
In general, inhaled allergens cause allergic asthma. Some allergens that can cause this condition include:
Less common allergens that can cause an asthmatic reaction include:
Even though an asthmatic reaction to these allergens is less common, they may cause a more serious reaction.
Allergic asthma and regular asthma have the same symptoms. They include:
If you have hay fever or skin allergies, you might also experience:
If you swallowed the allergen, these symptoms might be present as well:
A skin prick test is the common way to check for allergies. Your doctor will poke your skin with a needle containing a small amount of an allergen. After 20 minutes, your doctor will check your skin for red bumps. These bumps are a sign of an allergic reaction.
Additional tests that can check whether you have asthma along with your allergies include:
Treating allergic asthma can involve treating the allergy, the asthma, or both.
To treat your asthma, your doctor may prescribe inhaled anti-inflammatory medication or oral medications that help block the allergic response. A fast-acting relief inhaler, such as albuterol (ProAir HFA, Proventil HFA, Ventolin HFA) is best used to treat asthma symptoms when they occur and may be the only medication needed if you have intermittent symptoms. If you have mild persistent asthma symptoms, inhalers may be prescribed for daily usage. Examples of these include Pulmicort, Asmanex, and Serevent.
Allergy treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms. You may need an antihistamine to deal with classic allergy symptoms such as itching. You might also need allergy shots if your symptoms are more severe.
Allergic asthma can have serious complications. One complication is anaphylaxis. This type of severe allergic reaction may have symptoms such as:
Untreated anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. It may cause problems such as an abnormal heart rate, weakness, low blood pressure, rapid pulse, cardiac arrest, and pulmonary arrest.
Allergic asthma attacks aren’t always preventable. However, you may be able to make them less frequent by changing your environment.
Written by: April Khan and Elizabeth Boskey, PhD
Medically reviewed on: Mar 13, 2017: Elaine K. Luo, MD
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