Your itchy eyes, runny noses, and coughing might not be a cold but allergies Instead. As the season warms into spring, birch and alder trees begin to release pollen. If the weather is dry, the presence of pollens in the air might remain for a longer time. Combine this with dust from sand and gravel on our roads and smoke from wood fires still burning on crisp spring mornings, and you get a perfect storm for allergies and asthma. Take a minute to learn about these health problems. Know how to fight them with the right tests, preventive measures, and healthy habits.

Allergies

Allergies are caused by an immune response in our bodies. It can become severe quickly, especially when people have multiple allergies. 50 million+ Americans suffer from allergies caused by foreign substances. Examples of allergens that may affect you are:

  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Smoke
  • Animals
  • Venom
  • Certain food

What is the role of antibodies/immune system in allergies?

The immune system is like our defense system which prevents harmful elements from entering our body. It is done through the production of antibodies which increase when a foreign threat is detected in the system. Allergies might occur repetitively and might remain in the ‘memory’ of the immune system, so that, if it returns, the body can deal with it immediately.

 

Graphic describing how pollen causes allergic reactions
How can Allergens gain access into your body?

  • Through breathing
  • Food consumption
  • Via bites or syringes
  • Skin absorption

How Would You Know If You Have Allergy?

You are very likely to develop symptoms like:

  • Itchiness
  • Watery-eyes
  • Sneezes
  • Rashes
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Physical pain and discomfort

Types of Allergies

  • Anaphylaxis

A severe allergic reaction can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. This kind of allergy usually affects multiple body parts such as heart and stomach, both lungs, etc.

  • Eye Allergies

These are very common and a result of inflammation of the lining of the eye. Symptoms include itching, redness, and teary eyes.

  • Skin Allergies

When our skin is extremely sensitive, contact with an allergen can cause reactions. Certain food items may also cause skin allergy symptoms including swelling, rashes, and irritation.

  • Nasal Allergies(Rhinitis)

Nasal inflammations happen when you inhale foreign substances that you are allergic to producing mucus, and causing sneezing and itchiness.

  • Sinus Allergy(Sinusitis)

As the name suggests, this allergy affects the sinuses of our brain. Sinus headaches can occur due to this allergy.
Let’s have a quick look into what asthma is and how it can affect you.

Asthma

Asthma affects the lungs and is very common in children. In both adults and children, it can cause coughing, breathing issues and suffocation, known as asthma attacks. There is no permanent cure for it, but preventative care can be taken to deal with it effectively.
Statistics show:

  • Every day, asthma kills ten people, and over 24.5 million Americans are currently affected by it.
  • The number of children affected by asthma runs over 6 million.
  • Roughly, 3 out of 5 people with asthma are forced to limit their physical exertions and miss work.
  • Asthma treatments are very expensive with an annual cost of $56 billion.

 

illustration of lung airways showing difference between health airways and asthma

What Triggers Asthma?

  • Allergies – Allergies and asthma are closely related as the allergens responsible for the former can trigger the latter.
  • Irritants in the Air – Polluted air, containing pollen, dust, and dirt or smoke from cigarettes or burning wood can cause an asthma attack. Even if there is no known history of allergy from these elements, they can still cause asthma.
  • Respiratory Illness or pulmonary conditions such as common cold or flu can also be responsible for triggering asthma.
  • Medicines such as aspirin and NSAIDs can also cause asthma if the individual is sensitive to it.
  • Physical exertions can trigger asthma.

How to Know If You Have Asthma?

  • Severe coughs
  • Breathing issues
  • Discomfort in the chest

If the attack is strong, more prominent signs may appear such as:

  • Fast breathing with chest pain
  • Pale blue color at the lips and fingernails, clinically known as Cyanosis
  • Very young children or infants might have problems in recognizing their family and parents

How Is Asthma Diagnosed?

Medical providers use a combination of methods to be certain about your asthmatic condition. These can include a study of your medical history in detail, a physical examination, lung function tests and/or an X-ray of the sinus.

The Effect Stress on Allergies & Asthma

Stress and anxiety can worsen your asthma symptoms. Sudden and extreme changes in behavior in response to external events, such as crying, anger, and shouting, can affect your breathing patterns.

How Can You Prevent or Minimize Allergies or Asthma?

  • Knowledge: Be aware of the substances that are responsible for your allergies. Thus, you can set up plans to avoid them or to minimize contact with them.
  • Medicines: See your doctor and have the right medicine for your allergy.Special care for anaphylaxis: Epinephrine or adrenaline auto-injectors are life-savers in the event of a severe allergic reaction. Always keep them handy.
  • Special care for anaphylaxis: Epinephrine or adrenaline auto-injectors are life-savers in the event of a severe allergic reaction. Always keep them handy.
  • Maintain notes: Keep track of what you do and how symptoms appear. This will help you and your doctor to determine the sources of allergy in your body.
  • Air Filters: Air filters can help you filter out harmful substances and allergens before they come into contact with you.
  • Action plan: Ask your medical provider about the steps that you need to follow when you are suffering from an allergy or asthma attack. Have steps in place to help you get medical help as soon as possible should you need it.
  • Good stress management also helps control asthma. Try to manage your time in a purposeful manner and to not react excitedly to external events.
  • Get the help of support group and relax by doing recreational activities. Take an easy walk, do yoga or meditate.

Keep in mind, that if the lungs remain affected by allergen inflammation, the lung tissues will swell and worsen your asthma conditions. The better the allergy is treated, the better-controlled asthma will be. It is crucial to keep all symptoms in check and have regular check-ups to prevent the chances of any asthma attacks.


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