Allergies have the ability to trigger or induce asthma. For people with allergic asthma, breathing in substances such as pollen, mold, dust mites, and animal dander triggers the inflammation and swelling of the airways, leading to symptoms of asthma. The lining of the nose and the lining of the airways are similar and are affected similarly by the allergic inflammatory process. Studies suggest that treatment of allergic rhinitis actually improves asthma. Allergen immunotherapy is a type of allergy treatment which may significantly improve asthma. For those who have allergic asthma, reducing the exposure to the allergic substance can reduce asthmatic problems and in some cases, completely controls it.
Medications aimed at reducing inflammation are effective for allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, and non-allergic asthma. Corticosteroids help to reduce inflammation while intranasal corticosteroids are sprayed into nostrils, reducing inflammation from hay fever. Corticosteroid creams applied to your skin reduces the inflammation of eczema. Other medications are clearly more effective for one condition over another. Antihistamines are commonly used to treat allergic rhinitis, but have a very minor benefit for asthma.
A family history of allergies is the strongest risk factor having allergic asthma. Anyone with allergies is more likely to develop asthma. Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma, but there are other forms and triggers of asthma, including exercise induced asthma and non-allergic asthma triggered by infections or cold air. Recognizing the relationship between the body’s immune system and how the airways react has helped to improve treatment of asthma symptoms for many sufferers of allergic asthma.
While scientists do not completely understand why allergies develop, it is believed that a combination of factors create the immune system confusion, from genetic predisposition to environmental factors. There are two main categories of risks which may contribute to the development of allergies, those which can be changed and those which cannot. Many things that may prevent allergies need to occur at a very young age. Family history is considered an uncontrollable risk factor as is age and immune response. The reactions of the immune system are out of anyone’s control. Once the body becomes sensitive to a substance, the immune system produces large amounts of antibodies to fight the allergy.
There are no controllable risk factors for adults who wish to decrease their risk of developing allergies. This is due to the fact that allergy development is not related to lifestyle habits. Early childhood exposure to common household microbes, environmental bacteria, and fermented foods may help to reduce a child’s risk of developing allergies as they get older. Childhood exposure to pets, especially during the first year of life when the immune system is still developing, has been associated with a decreased risk of allergies to pet dander. Children are also at special risk of lung damage and illness from inhaled secondhand smoke so children of parents who smoke are at an increased risk for other respiratory illnesses including asthma. Most risk factors for allergies are out of the control of anyone, it is possible to reduce allergy symptoms by limiting exposure to known allergies. Healthy eating habits and exercise can further strengthen the immune system and help avoid unwanted allergic reactions.