Asthma is a long-term lung disease characterized by inflammation, constriction and congestion in your airways. Symptoms include: coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.
What triggers an asthma attack?
There are many triggers to an asthma attack. Some of the most common are:
Allergens (such as pollen, mold, house dust mites, or pet dander)
Airborne irritants (such as pollution or chemical fumes)
What is allergic asthma?
Allergic asthma is asthma that is triggered by an allergen and affects up to 60% of those with asthma. When a person with allergic asthma inhales allergens such as dust mites, mold, pet dander or pollen, an asthma attack may occur.
Inhaling these same allergens might also cause allergic rhinitis (commonly called hay fever). Allergic rhinitis does not result in an asthma attack but results in sneezing, congestion, runny nose and other upper respiratory symptoms. Some people have both allergic rhinitis and asthma. Allergic rhinitis often contributes to the development and severity of asthma.
How can I tell it allergens trigger my symptoms?
Ask your doctor to order an lmmunoCAP® Specific IgE allergy blood test. This is a simple, reliable test that is 96% to 98% accurate. It can identify hundreds of allergens that can trigger allergic asthma and/or rhinitis symptoms. Your doctor can test you for the most common allergens in your geographic area.
A positive lmmunoCAP® test allows the physician to determine what you are allergic to (what your allergic triggers are) and how severe your allergies are. This information will help you and your doctor better manage your asthma (and rhinitis, if you have it).
What Can I Do To Manage My Asthma?
Avoid exposure to your triggers.
If you’re allergic, limit contact with the allergens identified by your ImmunoCAP® test. If you limit contact with these triggers, you might be able to decrease the severity of your symptoms and experience symptoms less often. Limited contact can also help control allergic rhinitis, which, in turn, may help control allergic asthma.
If your triggers are airborne, here are some steps you can take to limit your contact:
Keep windows closed
Limit outdoor activities when pollen count is high
Clean your home often and thoroughly
Keep humidity in your home low
Replace furnace and air-conditioner filters regularly
Avoid contact with pets
Bathe pets frequently
If you have non-airborne or non-allergic triggers, ask your doctor about other steps you can take to avoid exposure.
Your doctor might prescribe one or more of the following medications:
Antihistamine, decongestant or nasal corticosteroid to treat nasal symptoms.
Bronchodilator ("inhaler") to open up airways so you can breathe.
Leukotriene modifier to block chemicals produced by the body in response to an allergen.
Allergy shots to gradually decrease your body’s reaction to your triggers.
Whatever your healthcare provider has prescribed, it’s important that you take your medication as directed.
Lexington Clinic is Central Kentucky's largest and oldest medical group. We have more than 200 providers in more than 30 specialties taking care of 600,000+ patients in the Lexington community since 1920.