What people with asthma should know about allergies

So are allergens bad? No, allergens are not an issue for those who do not have allergies. But for those with allergic asthma, their airways are sensitive to certain allergens, and can cause the immune system to overreact.

Because allergens can be indoors (animal dander, dust and mold) as well as outdoors (trees, grass, weeds and pollen) those with allergic asthma need to know their triggers so they can prevent a potential asthma attack.

“Asthma can be triggered by a number of factors; any one can lead to dangerous symptoms,” says Dr. Mark Hermanoff, an allergy and clinical immunology specialist with Aurora Health Care in Wauwatosa, WI. “Identifying the allergic triggers will allow the asthma patient to avoid the exposures that are causing the asthma to worsen.  Asthma patients frequently require medications to control symptoms but avoiding allergies can help reduce the amount of medication required every day. ”

Approximately 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year. For the 25 million people who suffer from asthma, it gets worse. These same allergens can trigger a full-blown asthma attack.

It doesn’t help either that allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma. About 90% of kids with childhood asthma have allergies, compared to about 50% in adults according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

If you or your loved ones experience allergic asthma, here are some tips Dr. Hermanoff recommends that you can follow this summer:

  • After heavy exposure to outdoor allergies, take a shower and change clothes to reduce your exposure.
  • Avoid exposure to outdoor allergies by keeping the windows closed and running air-conditioning.
  • Identify indoor allergies (dust mites, pets) and if present, put avoidance measures in place.

If symptoms do not improve with avoidance measures and over-the-counter medications, seek the help of a health care professional to determine if a formal allergy evaluation is necessary.

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