What you need to know about Allergies and Asthma
represent the most common acute and chronic disorders affecting both children and adults worldwide. Estimates indicate that about 20% of population including millions of children may be suffering from some form of allergic disease. Allergies are caused by your immune system's altered or exaggerated reaction to otherwise harmless substances commonly present in the environment – allergens. Allergens may be airborne particles, ingestibles or contact allergens causing respiratory, food or contact allergies, respectively. Sometimes allergic reactions can be triggered by allergens introduced by an insect sting/bite or by an exposure of a sensitized individual to a certain medication. Allergy symptoms may range from just making you miserable to putting you at risk for life-threatening reactions. They may be acute, transient or constitute chronic, life-long conditions. Allergic reactions can affect essentially any organ or system in your body, most commonly nose, throat, eyes, lungs, skin, stomach or intestines. However, rarely, allergic reaction can be generalized (affecting the whole body) and result in a rapid multi-organ failure and death. Whenever you are exposed to something you are allergic to, your immune system will trigger an allergic response again even though the severity of the reaction may vary. Thus, it is very important to learn what you are allergic to and take measures to effectively avoid such allergens and treat possible reactions.
is a common chronic disease affecting tens of millions of Americans and a major public health problem in the United States. Asthma sufferers experience well over 100 million days of restricted activity annually and there are over 5,000 asthma-related deaths each year in this country. Even though asthma mortality in the US is among the lowest in the world, it has risen over the past 20 years. The hallmark of the asthma is a chronic inflammation of the airways (bronchial tubes) with excessive mucus production and a thickening of the bronchial wall. This all ultimately results in narrowing of the airway passages and difficulty for air to move in and out of the lungs, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and/or chest tightness. If you have asthma your airways are always inflamed. They become even more swollen and the muscles around the airways can tighten when something triggers your symptoms. These triggers can include exercise, cold air, viral infections, stress, chemical irritants as well as allergens in allergic individuals.
have a lot in common besides making their sufferers' lives miserable. Allergies and asthma often occur together. The same substances that trigger your hay fever symptoms may also cause asthma signs and symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. This is called allergic asthma or allergy-induced asthma. Substances such as pollen, dust mites and pet dander are common triggers. In some people, skin or food allergies can cause asthma symptoms. In all of these scenarios, identifying your allergenic triggers and their subsequent avoidance is the most important prevention step you can take. Our expert AACC staff led by our Board certified allergists will help you and guide you through this process. Some treatments can reduce both asthma and allergy symptoms, such as antihistamines and even more so, leukotriene modifiers. Leukotriene modifiers (Singulair – montelukaust) help to control release of immune system substances released during an allergic reaction and may be quite helpful in asthma patients as well. However, if you suffer from allergic type of asthma with or without other allergy symptoms (e.g. hay fever), allergen immunotherapy (AIT – allergy shots) is likely to be the best option for you. The AIT can not only alleviate and possibly resolve your allergy symptoms but also reduce the severity and frequency of your asthma attacks. Most importantly, recent clinical studies have shown that AIT not only reduces both allergy and asthma symptoms but is also likely to halt yours or your children's asthma progression. Our Board certified allergists and AACC expert staff will perform all the necessary testing to help you to determine whether you have environmental allergies and advise you whether allergy injections are the treatment option for you. To learn more about allergy injections, please visit our immunotherapy section.