May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and here at Community Health Connections, we’re committed to getting the word out about these diseases, what causes their symptoms, and the best way to treat them so sufferers can find the most effective relief.
Asthma is a disease of the branches of the windpipe (bronchial tubes), which carry air in and out of the lungs. There are several different types of asthma:
- Allergic asthma. A type of asthma that is triggered by an allergy, such as pollen or mold spores.
- Exercise-induced asthma. This can make physical activity difficult, even frightening.
- Cough-variant asthma. Do you suffer from frequent coughs? You may have asthma.
- Occupational asthma. Your working environment can induce asthma.
- Nocturnal asthma. Asthma can keep you awake at night and prevent quality sleep.
Some people can go a long time between asthma episodes while others have some symptoms every day. Early warning signs and symptoms of an asthma attack include:
- Frequent cough, especially at night.
- Losing your breath easily, or shortness of breath.
- Feeling very tired or weak when exercising, in addition to wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath.
- Decreases or changes in peak expiratory flow, a measurement of how fast air comes out of the lungs when you exhale forcefully.
- Signs of a cold or other upper respiratory infections, or allergies.
- Difficulty sleeping.
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.
Allergy tests are a way to get to the bottom of what’s causing your asthma symptoms. They help your doctor find out if allergies trigger your asthma. These tests won’t identify asthma triggers such as exercise, stress, or illnesses like a cold.
Allergy tests alone are not enough to make an asthma diagnosis. Your doctor will look at your history of allergic reactions, too. Several types of allergy tests help with asthma, including skin tests and blood tests. The results may show what’s triggering your asthma and allergy symptoms, and that can help with your treatment.
At Community Health Connections, we can help diagnosis asthma or allergies by asking questions about your symptoms and lifestyle. You’ll also need various tests. By avoiding asthma or allergy triggers, taking medication, and carefully monitoring symptoms, asthma and allergy attacks can be avoided, or at least limited. Today, people who suffer from allergy or asthma can – and do – lead full and active lives.