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Sniffles, sneezes, and wheezes? Here are some signs that you may have allergic asthma

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects the airways in the lungs. It is characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, which can lead to symptoms such as difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing (a whistling sound during breathing), and chest tightness.

Asthma can be triggered by various factors, including genetic predisposition, respiratory infections during childhood, occupational exposures to irritants, smoking, obesity, and exposure to allergens like tobacco smoke, usage of smoke producing fuel (firewood/cow dung/kerosene) at home or air pollution.
These factors can increase the risk of developing asthma or exacerbate existing symptoms.

Additionally, asthma can manifest in different types, each with its own triggers and symptoms. These include exercise-induced asthma, occupational asthma, and allergy-induced asthma , each requiring tailored management approaches to effectively control symptoms and improve overall respiratory health.

With allergy season in full swing, we take a deeper look at allergic asthma , to understand the condition better.

What is allergic asthma?

The most common type of asthma, allergy-induced asthma typically flares up when exposed to allergens like pet dander, mold, dust mites or during specific times of the year when common allergens like pollen are most prevalent. For example, Spring (i.e., approx. Feb to April) brings with it an abundance of pollen in the air, which when inhaled can trigger inflammation and irritation in the airways, making it difficult to breathe. This irritation causes symptoms of asthma like shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and chest tightness. However, in some instances it can also be accompanied by symptoms more closely related to allergies like a stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, rashes, and hives.

Diagnosis & Management
Early detection and diagnosis are the foundation of effectively managing any chronic respiratory condition. To diagnose allergic asthma, multiple tests can be employed which include allergy testing like blood tests or skin-prick tests, that can provide valuable insights into allergen sensitivities. While asthma-specific tests, such as spirometry or FeNO can be employed to understand lung function or measure the amount of exhaled nitric oxide in an individual’s breath.

Depending on the results of these tests, the next most crucial step is seeking medical intervention as early as possible where inhalation therapy is the cornerstone treatment. This is due to its precise delivery, dosage, and duration of relief.

Furthermore, adhering to doctor prescribed treatment and strategies becomes the next pivotal step. Typically, this may involve a blend of rescue and maintenance medications. Rescue medications, used on an as-needed basis, provide rapid relief during sudden asthma exacerbations. On the other hand, maintenance medication is taken daily to prevent potential flare-ups.

Additional tips to control allergic asthma
Keeping a symptom journal can help track triggers, such as pollen exposure or pet interactions, assisting healthcare providers in devising personalized management plans.

Take extra precautions like staying inside when the pollen count is high as they break up and lodge themselves into the airways, causing asthma exacerbation.
Control indoor humidity using a dehumidifier or air conditioner. This will ensure the air remains dry and that there is no growth of mold, cockroaches, and house dust mites.

Creating an asthma action plan to list potential triggers, manage exposure, list down medications and emergency contacts.

Choose air filters wisely as they remove smoke and other small particles (like pollen) from a room.

Be careful doing outside work as gardening and raking can stir up pollens and mold.
Keeping one’s surroundings allergen free is essential for managing allergic asthma. Dust mites, mold – especially during the rainy season – increased pollen count, pet dander and cockroaches can all tigger one’s asthma.

Pre-empting seasonal change is also important to manage asthma as each season has specific allergens which are characteristic to it.

Disclaimer Note: This information is only for general awareness and is not to promote, use, or endorse any product or encourage use of medicines in any way nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or for treatment/ cure of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor/ Registered Medical Practitioner before starting any treatment/medicine. Use inhalers only on physician’s prescription.