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Spring Allergies

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Allergic Asthma vs. Non-Allergic Asthma

Seasonal allergic rhinitis, spring allergies, is one of the most common allergic conditions in the United States, affecting 35.9 million people. This condition is responsible for approximately 16.7 million office visits to health care providers each year, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). In recognition of May being the National Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month, Dr. Douglas H. Jones. MD, answers common questions about spring allergies.

Asthma affects more than 20 million people in the United States. While asthma has been known to affect people year round, spring can be particularly troublesome for the 10 million Americans who suffer from allergic asthma, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). Warmer temperatures mean higher pollen and mold spore counts, causing trouble for the allergic asthma sufferer.

“Allergic asthma occurs when a sensitized patient is exposed to allergens to which their immune system is sensitive, causing the production of the allergy antibody called IgE,” said Dr. Douglas H. Jones, MD. “Inhaling pollens, dust mite proteins, molds, animal dander or other allergens cause the airways of sensitive individuals to constrict because of IgE-armed mast cell activation as well as increased mucus production and entry of inflammatory cells into the airway, all combining to cause a potentially serious asthma attack.”

Symptoms of asthma include coughing, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, wheezing and chest tightness. While the symptoms of allergic and non-allergic asthma are similar, the triggers vary, depending on the type of allergen to which the individual patient is sensitive.

Non-allergic asthma triggers:

  • Air Pollution
  • Fumes
  • Perfumes
  • Household cleaning agents
  • Insecticides
  • Fresh paint
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Infection

Allergic asthma triggers:

  • Pollens
  • House dust mites
  • Animal dander
  • Mold spores (indoor and outdoor)
  • Cockroaches

Managing Your Allergic Asthma

Asthma is a chronic disease that requires ongoing management and treatment. Follow these tips to help control allergic asthma:

  • Minimize outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. Peak pollen times are usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Get pollen count information for your area from the NAB at www.aaaai.org/nab.
  • Keep your car windows closed when traveling.
  • Try to stay indoors when humidity is reported to be high, and on windy days when dust and pollen are blown about.
  • Take a shower after spending time outside—pollen can collect on your skin and hair.
  • Consult an allergist/immunologist, who can evaluate your history and conduct tests to find out if your asthma needs to be managed more effectively. They will help you develop an asthma action plan to manage your symptoms.

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