About Allergy & Asthma
An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid. Allergy is one of four forms of hypersensitivity and is formally called type I (or immediate) hypersensitivity. Allergic reactions are distinctive because of excessive activation of certain white blood cells called mast cells and basophils by a type of antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). This reaction results in an inflammatory response which can range from uncomfortable to dangerous.
Mild allergies like hay fever are very common in the human population and cause symptoms such as red eyes, itchiness, and runny nose, eczema, hives, or an asthma attack. Allergies can play a major role in conditions such as asthma. In some people, severe allergies to environmental or dietary allergens or to medication may result in life-threatening reactions called anaphylaxis. Food allergies, and reactions to the venom of stinging insects such as wasps and bees are often associated with these severe reactions.
Treatments for allergies include avoiding known allergens, use of medications such as anti-histamines that specifically prevent allergic reactions, steroids that modify the immune system in general, and medications such as decongestants that reduce the symptoms. Many of these medications are taken by mouth, though epinephrine, which is used to treat anaphylactic reactions, is injected. Immunotherapy uses injected allergens to desensitize the body's response.
Allergy may turn into Asthma?
Do allergies cause asthma? The answer to this question is: yes and no. People who have certain kinds of allergies are more likely to have asthma. Which kind of allergies? Usually, the type of allergies that affect your nose and eyes, causing problems like a runny nose or red, itchy eyes.
Whatever causes an allergic reaction, such as pollen or dust mites, can also trigger asthma symptoms. But not everyone who has allergies develops asthma. And not all cases of asthma are related to allergies.
About 23 million people in the United States have asthma. Of these, about 70% have an allergy to something. Many of these people find their asthma symptoms get worse when they're exposed to certain allergens (things that can cause allergic reactions). Common allergens include dust mites, mold, pollen, and animal dander. Parents who have allergies or asthma often pass along the tendency to have these conditions to their kids.
If we have allergies, our immune system reacts to these allergens as if the allergens were invading the body. To fight the allergen, our immune system produces an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE).
When the IgE combines with the allergen, a process is set in motion that results in the release of certain substances in the body. One of the substances released is histamine, which causes allergic symptoms that can affect the eyes, nose, throat, skin, gastrointestinal tract, or lungs. When the airways in the lungs are affected, symptoms of asthma (such as coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing) can occur.
The body remembers this reaction, so each time the allergen comes into contact with the body, the same thing can happen. Because of that, allergies can make it difficult for some people to keep their asthma under control.
If anyone has asthma, it's a good idea to look at whether allergies may be triggering his/her symptoms. Talking with doctor would be helpful about how to identify possible triggers.
Limiting exposure to possible allergens may be a big help in controlling asthma. If anyone can't completely limit his/her exposure to something, and has been shown to be allergic to it, doctor may recommend allergy shots